Risk Management Magazine

Search for Articles

Poor Choices

Poor Choices

15th Military Intelligence Battalion (Aerial Exploitation)
116th Military Intelligence Brigade
Fort Hood, Texas

Author’s note: The following event happened during the initial fielding of a Shadow platoon. This accident could have been prevented if members of the crew had performed their duties at the expected level and if proper crew coordination was utilized.

The Shadow platoon conducted their initial training from January to May and, due to the entire platoon being straight from advanced individual training, the experience level was minimal at best. This was a Monday through Friday event for the duration of the training period, and we were being trained by civilian contractors. The accident happened because of an error that was made during the time when maintenance crews assemble the aircraft and prep it for preflight.

The day started as normal as most days did during this time we spent in the field. Upon arrival at the site, the maintenance crew split off to assemble and prep the first aircraft for flight. The operators split off to conduct their power-up procedures. Initially, everything started out normal with no hiccups. Then, some childish behavior, followed by a lack of crew coordination, started at the walk-around of the aircraft and carried through the preflight and into launch.

During the walk-around, the aircraft operator, payload operator and crew chief decided they would have fun with this flight and change some of the words they used during the preflight checks and engine run-up procedures. Once the preflight started, the AO would make his calls to the CE and use different lingo for things like “Clear for Total Sticks” and others along those lines. You can use your imagination to figure out some of the words that were used in place of “clear” and “sticks.”

Unfortunately, no one who had a radio did anything to stop this, which is where the lack of crew coordination came into play. During a step where you check all of the surfaces of the aircraft, there was a slight failure of the aileron, but it wasn’t addressed because of the goofing around. This came back to bite everyone in the end.

They continued to cut up throughout the entire preflight checks and engine start-up and run-up procedures. When it was time for the AC to launch, the PO called the CE. Instead of using the correct lingo of, “Countdown 5,4,3,2,1, launch, launch, launch,” the PO said, “5,4,3,2,1, blastoff,” and the CE launched the AC.

Immediately upon launch, the right aileron failed, causing an uncontrolled flight which ultimately led to the AC crashing at the end of the runway. Needless to say, when the playback made its way through the investigation board process and the audio was heard, it didn’t turn out well for many people.

The biggest lesson learned here is we should always follow proper procedures and avoid goofing around during important modes of flight or preparing for flight. Simple items that could have been seen if everyone was being serious could have prevented this Shadow from crashing because they would have noticed the anomaly during the preflight checks of the aileron. The lack of crew coordination comes from no one stepping in during the entire process and making those individuals stop and perform the steps to standard.

There is obviously a time to be serious and a time to goof around. Anything dealing with important phases of flight certainly isn’t the time to not follow procedures.

  • 24 July 2016
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 1210
  • Comments: 0