ATC audio here: http://www.avweb.com/podcast/files/2009-03-05_Shooter25-MiramarF18Crash-ATCaudio.mp3
Thanks for posting this, Laylow.
By all accounts, it appears as though 225 was cleared for the visual on 06 and was last instructed to down to 2,000. He was executing a left-turn in the clouds while at the same time, civilian control instructed a right-hand turn to 060 to 080 [it varied about two times in rapid succession]. 225 knew that there were clouds and asked for vectors to align with 06 at Miramar. 225 confirmed that he had the runway in sight
but a split second later somebody calls in to confirm "smoke" at 2 miles short of the runway.
I'm not so sure anymore that this was merely a second engine out problem. Prior to 225's verbal confirmation that he had 060 in sight, he made no mention of an immanent engine problem. 225's last mention of a "possible" remaining engine problem came much earlier in the ATC transmission - he never mentions it after that as being something that he felt would be causal of him not making the runway.
He was also conscious and aware of his aircraft's energy status, as he refused to begin his descent when control initially instructed a descent down to 4,000 ft. He refused twice and then began his descent on his own while control fed him vectors. But, at some point he ended up at 2,000 on his own in the clouds(?) I'm still not sure why 225 did this [we were not there, of course], but this placed him 2,000 ft lower than control was expecting initially. Right after that, 225 confirms visual on 060 and then a split second after that, "smoke" was called by someone else short of the active at 2 miles.
Now, I know I'm not a pilot yet and I am still very green, but hearing this audio puts things in a different light for me. It sounds like 225 penetrated the clouds and went "too low" initially to make 060 on the visual. If there was a second engine failure, he simply did not have the altitude to deal with it in time. According to the Naval Aviation Safety Center, the F-18 has a four channel, dual computer control-by-wire with hydraulic boost control flight system, that has had problems before within certain engine out scenarios and when pilots failed to run the FCS I-Bit test as a normal part of the engine start-up procs routine. It does not sound like an I-Bit problem, but who knows.
As far as the F404 shutting itself down automatically is concerned, that's not something I've read in any specification on the F404. From what I've read in the past, the F404 is fairly resistant to compressor stalls, even at high angles of attack. And, when it does suffer a stall, both the engine and then the afterburners auto-start/ignite
as a matter of design, not as a course of anything the pilot does. So, the pilot could have a compressor stall and never have to manually restart the engines or light the afterburners [manually].