US military investigators have determined that pilot error led to the 3 April loss of a US Air Force Lockheed C-5 Galaxy at Dover AFB, Delaware.
The pilots and flight engineers “did not properly configure, manoeuvre and power the aircraft during approach and landing”, says the accident investigation board appointed by Air Mobility Command. All 17 people on board the C-5 survived, but three sustained serious injuries.
Following a normal take-off and initial climb, the crew observed a No 2 engine “Thrust Reverser Not Locked” indication light. They shut down the engine as a precaution and returned to Dover AFB. The AIB determined that during the return to the base:
- The pilots and flight engineers continued to use the shut-down No 2 engine’s throttle while leaving the fully-operational number three engine in idle;
- the crew failed to use a proper flap setting;
- the pilots’ attempt to fly a visual approach to runway 32 resulted in the aircraft descending “well below” the correct glidepath;
- the commander “failed to give a complete approach briefing that would have included non-standard factors, configuration, landing distance and missed approach intentions”.
The aircraft stalled, hit a telegraph pole and crashed into a field “about a mile” short of the runway. It was supposed to fly to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and was loaded with 47,700kg (105,000lb) of supplies.