Air Force Concludes Misplaced Goggles Caused Plane Crash That Killed 14

REUTERS/Charles Platiau

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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The U.S. Air Force concluded that a case of night vision goggles caused the Oct. 2 crash of a transport plane in Afghanistan, which killed 14 people.

The crew of the C-130J was offloading cargo after a successful mission from Bagram Airfield to Jalalabad Airfield. The pilot raised the elevators on the horizontal stabilizer at the rare of the plane to make room for tall cargo. This was originally done manually with the pilot pulling back the yoke by hand. The pilot eventually put a case of night vision goggles (NVGs) behind the the yoke to keep the elevator in a raised position, an Air Force press released reported Friday.

When the crew got ready for take off after completing the offloading, the case was still in front of the yoke as neither pilot had removed it. Once the aircraft was airborne, it increased in an excessive upward pitch. The co-pilot misidentified it as a trim malfunction and tried improper recovery techniques. The upward pitch eventually reached an angle from which the pilots could not recover.

The crash killed all 11 individuals onboard the plane, as well as three Afghan Special Reaction Force members on the ground. The aircraft impacted 28 seconds after take-off.

“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,” Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente, who led the accident investigation board, said in the statement.

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