Air Mobility Command accident investigators determined that inadequate visual scanning and overreliance on collision avoidance systems by the crews of an Air Force Reserve Command C-130H and Army Special Operations Command C-27J caused the midair collision of these airplanes near Pope Field, N.C., last December. They found “convincing evidence” that “a breakdown in visual scan” result[ed] in insufficient clearing of the aircraft flight path by both aircrews,” states AMC’s March 16 release summarizing the accident investigation board’s report on the Dec. 1, 2014, mishap. The 440th Airlift Wing’s C-130 was pulling up after a nighttime low-level supply drop with night-vision goggles when the C-27J clipped it roughly eight miles south of Mackall AAF, N.C. The C-27 passed head-on diagonally under the C-130, grazing the latter’s underside with its wingtip. The C-27’s vertical stabilizer struck the C-130’s right wing, external fuel tank, and outboard engine nacelle, according to the AIB report (caution, large-sized file.) The impact sheared a third of the C-27’s vertical tail, but both aircraft landed safely. The C-130, serial number 88-4404, sustained an estimated $1.8 million in damage and associated cleanup, according to the report. There were no injuries to either crew.
Lockheed Martin is pitching its Airbus A330-based LMXT tanker as a “mothership” for the Air Force’s planned fleet of small, stealthy tankers—a rationale company officials hope will overcome the service’s reticence to open its so-called “bridge tanker” buy to competition.