Report: Pilot’s non-adherence to procedures causes fatal USAF C-17 crash

The USAF Accident Investigation Board reported that the July 2010 accident involving a C-17 Globemaster III was caused by “pilot error”.

The McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III transport plane was operated by the US Air Force 517AS/3rd Wing and was going to practice maneuvers for the upcoming  Arctic Thunder Air Show at Anchorage-Elmendorf AFB, AK (EDF).

The airplane executed a takeoff from runway 06. After the initial climb out and left turn, the pilot executed an aggressive right turn. As the aircraft banked, the stall warning system activated to alert the crew of an impending stall. Instead of implementing stall recovery procedures, the pilot continued the turn as planned, and the aircraft entered a stall from which recovery was not possible. Although the pilot eventually attempted to recover the aircraft, he employed incorrect procedures, and there was not sufficient altitude to regain controlled flight.The aircraft impacted wooded terrain northwest of the airfield, damaged a portion of the Alaskan Railroad, and was destroyed.

The board president found clear and convincing evidence that the cause of the mishap was pilot error. The pilot violated regulatory provisions and multiple flight manual procedures, placing the aircraft outside established flight parameters at an attitude and altitude where recovery was not possible. Furthermore, the copilot and safety observer did not realize the developing dangerous situation and failed to make appropriate inputs. In addition to multiple procedural errors, the board president found sufficient evidence that the crew on the flight deck ignored cautions and warnings and failed to respond to various challenge and reply items. The board also found channelized attention, overconfidence, expectancy, misplaced motivation, procedural guidance, and program oversight substantially contributed to the mishap.

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