C-130H mishap investigation results released

A C-130 Hercules from the 153d Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard. (Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. Jon Alderman)

The U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command has released the results of its investigation into the C-130H Hercules accident that occurred at Al Taji Army Airfield (Camp Taji), Iraq, June 8, 2020.

The mishap crew, assigned to the 153rd Airlift Wing, in Cheyenne, Wyo., was on a routine mobility airlift mission from Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait to Camp Taji, when it failed to come to a stop during landing, overran the runway, and impacted a concrete barrier. 

All 26 crew members and passengers survived the mishap, with relatively minor injuries to two individuals. The aircraft, which was assigned to the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, was damaged beyond repair, and was valued at $35.9 million.  

During descent into Camp Taji, the mishap crew prepared the aircraft for a nighttime landing, using night vision devices. During this time, the mishap crew turned the aircraft earlier than planned and did not descend to lower altitudes in accordance to their planned descent. This allowed airspeed to exceed recommended maximum speeds for the configuration of the plane.

During landing, the aircraft stayed above the planned glideslope and maintained excessive airspeed, with a nose-down attitude until touchdown. This caused the aircraft to “porpoise” or oscillate down the runway from the point of touchdown until the aircraft was slowed enough to allow the aircraft to settle onto the wheels enough for the brakes to engage.

Despite slowing somewhat, the aircraft had less than 1,000 feet of runway remaining by that point and subsequently overran the runway. It did not come to a complete stop until it impacted a 12-foot-high concrete barrier, approximately 600 feet past the runway.

The Accident Investigation Board president found, by a preponderance of evidence, that the primary cause of the mishap was human error. Specifically, the mishap crew maintained excessive airspeed, which, upon initial touchdown, caused the aircraft to maintain lift, and did not provide sufficient weight on wheels to allow braking action to occur within the time and distance remaining. Additionally, the aircraft commander’s failure to adequately assess risk and follow proper procedures, as well as poor communication between the crew, substantially contributed to the mishap. 

The full report is available here.

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