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Investigation report determines cause of C-130J crash in October

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Mobility Command has released the results of an accident investigation that examined what caused the Oct. 2, crash of a C-130J during a takeoff from Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan, which killed all 11 individuals onboard upon impact and three Afghan Special Reaction Force (ASRF) members on the ground.

The crew flew a successful mission from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, to Jalalabad Airfield. While conducting engine running on-load/offload operations at Jalalabad Airfield, the pilot raised the elevators mounted to the horizontal stabilizer by pulling back on the yoke. This provided additional clearance to assist with offloading tall cargo. After a period of time in which the pilot held the yoke by hand, he placed a hard-shell night vision goggle (NVG) case in front of the yoke to hold the elevator in a raised position.

However, because the pilots were operating in darkened nighttime flying conditions and wearing NVGs, neither pilot recognized and removed the NVG case after loading operations were complete or during takeoff. Once airborne, the aircraft increased in an excessive upward pitch during the takeoff climb. The co-pilot misidentified the flight control problem as a trim malfunction, resulting in improper recovery techniques. The rapid increase in pitch angle resulted in a stall from which the pilots were unable to recover. The aircraft impacted approximately 28 seconds after liftoff, right of the runway, within the confines of Jalalabad Airfield.

The aircraft struck the ground, a perimeter wall and a guard tower, which resulted in all personnel onboard the aircraft being killed, along with three ASRF members assigned to the tower.

"Our hearts go out to the family members and friends of those killed in this accident," said Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, who led the accident investigation board. "The investigation team pushed an intense fact-finding investigation to understand what happened on Oct. 2, 2015, and to honor all whose lives were cut short."

The crew consisted of the pilot, copilot, and two loadmasters assigned to the 39th Airlift Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Also on board were two fly-away security team members assigned to the 66th Security Forces Squadron, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., and five civilian contractor passengers.

The aircraft was from the 317th Airlift Group, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and operated by the 39th Airlift Squadron. While operating at the deployed location, the aircraft and crew were assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

The report is available on the Air Force freedom of Information Act Reading Room website. Please contact Air Mobility Command Public Affairs at 618-229-7839 with requests for additional information.