November 6, 2015 (by AFMC) - Air Force Materiel Command released an Accident Investigation Board report for the mishap involving an AC-130J Ghostrider that occurred on April 21, 2015.
The newly created AC-130J Ghostrider awaits takeoff for its first official sortie on January 31st at Eglin AFB. [USAF photo by Sara Vidoni]
The mishap occurred while conducting a medium risk flying qualities test sortie over the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 40 miles south of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. There were no injuries.
The incident occurred while the crew from the 413 Flight Test Squadron at Eglin was performing steady heading sideslips at an altitude of approximately 15,000 feet. The aircraft exceeded the targeted angle of sideslip until it departed controlled flight and momentarily inverted before being recovered after losing approximately 5,000 feet of altitude. The aircraft returned to base and landed safely without further incident.
As a result of the mishap, the aircraft was "over G'd," and exceeded its design limit load, thereby nullifying the airworthiness of the aircraft and rendering it a total loss. The damages are estimated at more than $115 million.
The board president found the cause of the accident to be the AC-130J pilot's "excessive rudder input during the test point followed by inadequate rudder input to initiate a timely recovery from high angle of sideslip due to overcontrolled/undercontrolled aircraft and wrong choice of action during an operation."
The board president also found four substantially contributing factors: instrumentation and warning system issues, spatial disorientation, confusion, and inadequate provision of procedural guidance or publications to the team.