Memory loss causes UAV crash

The crash of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Sept. 14 occurred when the operator inadvertently cut off communications with the system, investigators said.

The RQ-1A Predator crashed near Indian Springs Auxiliary Field, Nev., when the operator, who was flying the aircraft from a ground-control station, accidentally cleared the primary control module's RAM, causing the Predator to lose its data link connection with the ground control station.

The crew attempted to re-establish the link with the aircraft, but the Predator stalled shortly after the data link was lost, crashing several minutes later.

The $25 million Predator is used for surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition. It is armed with a TV camera, an infrared camera and radar. The cameras produce full-motion video, and the radar produces still-frame images. The vehicle takes four crew members to operate.

The crash resulted in no injuries and no serious damage.

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