Pilot Over Confidence Contributes to Fatal C-17 Crash in Alaska

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As the aircraft banked, it entered a stall from which recovery was not possible. USAF Video
As the aircraft banked, it entered a stall from which recovery was not possible. USAF Video

A U.S. Air Force investigation of a fatal crash of a C-17A Globemaster III aircraft on July 28, 2010 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska was caused by pilot error.

The accident occurred when the  aircraft (tail number 00-0173) practiced for the Arctic Thunder Air Show scheduled at the base on that weekend. 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 apparently continued the turn as planned, and the aircraft entered a stall from which recovery was not possible.

The aircraft was assigned to the 3rd Wing based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The integrated crew on board consisted of a pilot, copilot, safety observer and loadmaster, from both the 249th and 517th Airlift Squadrons.

The investigation, directed by General Gary North, Pacific Air Forces commander, determined the accident was caused by 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.

The investigation found that, in addition to the pilot errors, the co-pilot and safety observer did not realize the developing dangerous situation and did not make appropriate inputs. In addition to multiple procedural errors the board determined that the crew of the flight deck ignored caution and warnings and failed to respond to various challenge and reply items. All four aircrew members died instantly.

“Channelized attention, overconfidence, expectancy, misplaced motivation, procedural guidance and program oversight substantially contributed to the mishape” The board stated.