Re­port: Pi­lot er­ror cause of deadly mil­i­tary plane crash

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - OBITUARIES -

“By con­duct­ing a thor­ough re­view and in­ves­ti­ga­tion, we hope to pro­vide an­swers to the fam­i­lies of brave Air­men that lost their lives and pre­vent fu­ture oc­cur­rences and tragedies.”

— AC­CI­DENT IN­VES­TI­GA­TION BOARD TEAM LEADER BRIG. GEN. JOHN C. MIL­LARD

SA­VAN­NAH, Ga. — The cause of a mil­i­tary plane crash that left nine peo­ple dead out­side Sa­van­nah, Ge­or­gia, was pi­lot er­ror, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the U.S. Air Force Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Board.

Nine air­men from the Puerto Rico Na­tional Guard died May 2 when the plane plunged onto Ge­or­gia High­way 21 shortly af­ter take­off from the Sa­van­nah air­port.

“The pur­pose of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was to iden­tify the cause and con­tribut­ing fac­tors that led to this tragic and un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent,” said Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Board team leader Brig. Gen. John C. Mil­lard. “By con­duct­ing a thor­ough re­view and in­ves­ti­ga­tion, we hope to pro­vide an­swers to the fam­i­lies of brave Air­men that lost their lives and pre­vent fu­ture oc­cur­rences and tragedies.”

Mil­lard’s team spent close to a month re­view­ing an ar­ray of ev­i­dence in­clud­ing in­ter­views, logs, video, brief­ing ma­te­ri­als, and in­spec­tion of air­craft wreck­age be­fore as­sem­bling a de­tailed se­quence of events sur­round­ing the crash.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the left out­er­most en­gine ex­pe­ri­enced prob­lems and in­ves­ti­ga­tors found that the crew’s mis­man­age­ment of the mal­func­tion de­vi­ated from stan­dard pro­ce­dures. Fail­ure to fol­low those pro­ce­dures made fur­ther ac­tion by the pi­lot re­sult in loss of con­trol of the air­craft, caus­ing it to crash.

The plane was as­signed to a crew from the 156th Air­lift Wing in Mu­niz Air Base from Puerto Rico. Their mis­sion was to de­liver the C-130 plane from Sa­van­nah to an Air Force base in Ari­zona com­monly re­ferred to as the “Bone­yard,” where it would be de­com­mis­sioned.

The pi­lot of the plane was pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied as Maj. Jose R. Ro­man Rosado, of Ma­nati, Puerto Rico.

All nine crew mem­bers had helped with hur­ri­cane re­cov­ery ef­forts as part of the 198th Fighter Squadron, nick­named the Bu­caneros, which flies out of Base Mu­niz in the north­ern coastal city of Carolina, said Ad­ju­tant Gen. Is­abelo Rivera, com­man­der of the Puerto Rico Na­tional Guard. The squadron used the plane to res­cue Amer­i­cans from the Bri­tish Virgin Is­lands af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma, and later supplied food and water to Puerto Ri­cans des­per­ate for help af­ter Hur­ri­cane Maria.

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