USAF releases report into C-130H3 accident in Iraq

An executive summary of the US Air Force Accident Investigation Board report into the accident involving a C-130H3 Hercules at Al Taji Army Airfield, Iraq, on June 8, 2020, has been released by Air Mobility Command.

The aircraft, tail number 94-6706, was from the Georgia Air National Guard’s (ANG’s) 165th Airlift Wing (AW)/158th Airlift Squadron (AS) at Savannah Air National Guard Base (ANGB), Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, Georgia. It was manned by Wyoming ANG crew members deployed from the 153rd AW/187th AS at Cheyenne ANGB, Cheyenne Regional Airport, Wyoming, and was on detachment at the time to the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.

The crew consisted of the mishap pilot (MP), the mishap co-pilot (MCP1), mishap co-pilot (MCP2), navigator, flight engineer and two loadmasters. Additionally, onboard the aircraft (MA) at the time of the mishap sortie (MS) were 19 US Army personnel travelling as passengers with their baggage. On June 8, 2020, at approximately 2205hrs local time (L), the MA C-130H3 Hercules, 94-6706, was involved in an accident during a routine mobility airlift mission from Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, into Al Taji (Camp Taji), Iraq. It failed to come to a stop during landing, overran the runway and impacted a concrete barrier. All 26 mishap crew (MC) members and passengers survived the accident, egressing with relatively minor injuries to just two of the individuals. The MA, valued at US$35.9m was damaged beyond repair.

C-130H3 Hercules 94-6706 in Georgia 14-11-2016 [US ANG/Tech Sgt Amber Williams]
US Air Force C-130H3 Hercules 94-6706 assigned to the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Wing/158th Airlift Squadron on the ramp at its base at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, Georgia, at sunset on November 14, 2016. It was still assigned to the unit when it was written off in Iraq on June 8, 2020. US ANG/Tech Sgt Amber Williams

The mishap occurred at the end of the first planned leg of the MC’s mission on June 8 last year. The MC departed Ali Al Salem Air Base at approximately 2053L, with an uneventful start, taxi, take-off and cruise to Camp Taji. After cruising for approximately 59 minutes, the MA began its descent into Camp Taji and the MC prepared the aircraft for a night-time landing, using night-vision devices.

The investigation board heard that, during this time, the MC turned the MA earlier than their pre-briefed planned turn point and did not descend to lower altitudes in accordance with their planned descent, resulting in the MA being 1,000ft higher than the planned glideslope. The MC also allowed the airspeed to exceed recommended maximum speeds for the configuration the aircraft was in. During the landing, the MA continued to be above the planned glideslope and maintained excessive airspeed, with a nose-down attitude until touchdown.

The MA proceeded to ‘porpoise’ or oscillate down the runway from the point of touchdown until the MA was slowed sufficiently by use of reverse thrust from the engines to allow the MA to settle onto the wheels, which in turn allowed for the brakes to engage. The MA, despite slowing somewhat, had fewer than 1,000ft of runway remaining by that point. It thus overran the runway and did not come to a complete stop until it impacted a 12ft-high concrete barrier, approximately 600ft past the end of the runway.

The Accident Investigation Board (AIB) President found by a preponderance of the evidence that the causes of the mishap were the MA’s excess airspeed above recommended landing velocity, which caused the MA to maintain lift (flight) and did not provide sufficient weight on wheels (WOW) to allow braking action to occur. Additionally, the AIB President found, by a preponderance of the evidence, the MC’s failure to adequately assess risk, failure to follow proper procedures and their poor communication were all substantially contributing factors to the mishap.