Two AF members blamed for $2M mishap
Two Air Force members have been blamed for an accident that caused more than $2 million of damage to a refueling plane on April 1 at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus.
The plane’s co-pilot and a ground technician failed to check if the front landing gear was locked in place following routine maintenance of a KC-135R, according to a news release from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
The landing gear was not locked and retracted into the plane when the plane’s hydraulic pressure was applied, causing the aircraft to fall on its nose. The plane was in its parking place and the engines had not been started when the accident occurred.
The aircraft was deployed to Akrotiri to provide refueling in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to the release. While there, it was attached to the 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, 401st Air Expeditionary Wing.
The plane was assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England. The findings were made by the U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board, the release stated.
According to the accident report, a guidance and controls system technician failed to lock the landing gear into place following maintenance, which violated a required procedure. The board also found that the plane’s co-pilot failed to verify the landing gear was locked in place, which he was required to do.
The two airmen were not named in the press release. Capt. Shane Balken of the Mildenhall public affairs office said Thursday that no action had yet been taken against the two airmen. He said he could not elaborate on the prospective punishments.
The accident caused the two inboard-engine cowlings — or engine covers — to come in contact with the ground. The damage was estimated at $2,100,437. Except for damage to the plane, there was no property damage or injuries caused by the accident, according to the release.
Balken said pre-flight inspections are made prior to every flight and are done by both maintenance and aircrew personnel.
Balken said the landing-gear lever had been moved to the up — or unlocked — position to facilitate maintenance. It was not returned to the down — or locked — position following the maintenance.
Both the technician and copilot are required to check the position of the landing-gear lever as part of their pre-flight responsibilities.