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174th Attack Wing discusses return of Reaper training missions

Central New Yorkers still don’t know what caused an MQ-9 Reaper to crash into Lake Ontario two weeks ago, but the 174th Attack Wing has resumed training missions with the aircraft.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Central New Yorkers still don’t know what caused an MQ-9 Reaper to crash into Lake Ontario two weeks ago, but the 174th Attack Wing has resumed training missions with the aircraft.

The unit began flying again yesterday as the safety investigation continues.

The 174th officials say a significant number of pieces from the crashed have been found in Lake Ontario. A safety investigation board, independent of the 174th, is looking for exactly what caused it to crash.

While the review continues, wing commanders say it’s been determined that the unit’s MQ-9s are safe to fly again.

The 174th commander says they have gone through a detailed process looking at all facets of the MQ-9 – both flying and maintenance – with technical experts in the Air National Guard and Air Combat Command.

"I have complete confidence in the aircraft at this time and the aircrew, airmen and maintainers that take care of this airplane,” said 174th Attack Wing Commander Col. Greg Semmel.

Col. Semmel says flights with the MQ-9 Reaper have resumed over the already FAA approved airspace and that includes the Greater Syracuse area and parts of Oswego County.

"I think on average you'll find if you go back and look at safety investigations or mishaps in the Air Force that it’s pretty common to be back to flying operations fairly expeditiously within a couple of days,” Col. Semmel said.

Despite the crash, Col. Semmel said he’s still confident that the 174th will get FAA approval next year to be able to also start flying the MQ-9s out of Hancock Field.

Col. Semmel says safety investigation boards typically take about 30 days.

He says, after that, a second investigation is conducted, independent of the first, and that report it releasable to the public.

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