News Briefs – November 9, 2015

AC-130J accident report released

Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has released an Accident Investigation Board report for the mishap involving an AC-130J Ghostrider that occurred April 21, 2015. The mishap occurred while conducting a medium risk flying qualities test sortie over the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 40 miles south of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. There were no injuries. 
The incident occurred while the crew from the 413 Flight Test Squadron at Eglin was performing steady heading sideslips at an altitude of approximately 15,000 feet. The aircraft exceeded the targeted angle of sideslip until it departed controlled flight and momentarily inverted before being recovered after losing approximately 5,000 feet of altitude. The aircraft returned to base and landed safely without further incident.
As a result of the mishap, the aircraft was “over G’d,” and exceeded its design limit load, thereby nullifying the airworthiness of the aircraft and rendering it a total loss. The damages are estimated at more than $115 million.
The board president found the cause of the accident to be the AC-130J pilot’s “excessive rudder input during the test point followed by inadequate rudder input to initiate a timely recovery from high angle of sideslip due to overcontrolled/undercontrolled aircraft and wrong choice of action during an operation.”
The board president also found four substantially contributing factors: instrumentation and warning system issues, spatial disorientation, confusion, and inadequate provision of procedural guidance or publications to the team.

Pentagon plan to close Guantanamo expected; options listed

U.S. officials say the Pentagon’s plan outlining the long-stalled effort to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, expected next week, includes details suggesting that the Centennial Correctional Facility in Colorado is one suitable site to send detainees whom officials believe should never be released.
The plan represents a last-gasp effort by the Obama administration to convince Congress that detainees who can’t be transferred safely to other countries should be housed in a U.S.-based prison.
Administration officials say the plan makes no recommendations on which U.S. site is preferred and provides no rankings. But it lists the seven prison sites in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas visited by officials and includes advantages and disadvantages.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. AP

China leader vows to respect free navigation in disputed sea

China’s President Xi Jinping has promised to safeguard freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where tensions have flared over overlapping claims and the U.S. Navy’s moves to challenge Beijing’s massive island building.
Speaking at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, Xi said Nov. 7 that there has never been any problem with freedom of navigation and overflight and “nor will there ever be in the future.”
He says China needs unimpeded passage through the waters more than anyone else.
He says: “We have absolute confidence and capability in maintaining the peace and stability. This can be done through negotiations and the establishment of reasonable maritime rights.” AP

U.S. Marines release findings on chopper crash in Nepal quake

The crew’s decision to use the most direct route to bring out the injured is the likely cause of a U.S. military helicopter crash that killed 13 people during earthquake rescue operations in May in Nepal, the U.S. Marine Corps said Nov. 7.
The choice, which may have been made because one or more of the injured was in need of urgent treatment, took the UH-1Y “Huey” helicopter for a brief period over unfamiliar terrain in unstable weather, according to a news release from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Okinawa, Japan.
“It is believed that the aircraft … was enveloped by rapidly developing clouds or lifted into a cloud by rising air currents. As they attempted to maneuver out of the weather conditions, they lost visual reference with the terrain and impacted the ground,” the release read in part.
It took three days to find the wreckage in mountainous terrain northeast of Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital.
All 13 on board died in the May 12 crash, including six Marines, two Nepalese soldiers and five injured civilians.
Four of the Marines were part of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Calif. Two other Marines were combat cameramen based in Japan.
The U.S. relief mission was deployed after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, killing more than 8,200 people. AP

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