From 1961 onwards, Germany acquired 916 Lockheed F-104 Starfighters, of which 292 aircraft crashed and 116 pilots lost their lives. The purpose of this research project was to find out why these aircraft crashed and whether the Starfighters crashed for reasons different from those for other military aircraft in Germany. Seventy-one German F-104 accidents between 1978 and 1986 were analyzed by reviewing the original accident files. A Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS) Level-1 analysis was used as methodology. It was found that more than 50% of the reviewed German F-104 accidents occurred due to technology and/or physical environment. More than half of the sample’s accidents were engine related. It was concluded that the F-104 was indeed more accident-prone than other co-era types. Moreover, the J-79 engine was found to be a weak link in the F-104’s safety record, and the Starfighter’s unforgiving handling characteristics induced an elevated level of skill-based errors.
Esser, Steven and Ruff-Stahl, Hans-Joachim K.
"An HFACS Analysis of German F-104 Starfighter Accidents,"
Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering:
2, Article 3.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.7771/2159-6670.1218