[Video] F-15E Strike Eagle suffers engine compressor stall on take-off

The following footage was shot by Ben Ramsay and his brother on Jan. 15, 2014, at RAF Lakenheath, UK.

It shows a local based F-15E Strike Eagle on take off from British base suffering a dramatic compressor stall/surge.

A compressor surge is a particular kind of stall resulting in a complete breakdown in compression that occurs when compressor’s blades stall because the flow is disrupted or the angle of attack gets too high, forward flow through the compressor can no longer be maintained, air piles up in the rear stages of the compressor without being compressed and a momentary reversal of flow causes a violent expulsion of previously compressed air out (sometimes) through the intakes too.

The excess air can cause a loud bang a flames (because of the high temperatures), just like shown in the footage.

The compressor will usually recover to normal flow once the engine pressure ratio reduces to a level at which the compressor is capable of sustaining stable airflow. Some engines have automatic recover functions even if pilots experiencing the surge can be compelled to act on the throttle or, in some cases, relight the engine.

The event witnessed by Ben and his brother only lasted around 0.2 seconds; the speed was still low and the pilot’s reaction (powering down both engines and apply full left rudder to compensate for the yaw induced by momentary lack of thrust from the right engine) was enough to safely abort the take-off.

However, compressor stalls can be quite dangerous (and sometimes even embarrassing).


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.