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C-130 mighty Herk aircraft safety stats for FY2010

A C-130 Hercules airdrops cargo to ground troops in support of their mission over Afghanistan. C-130’s transport cargo, personnel and airdrop to forward operating bases in the area of responsibility.

A C-130 Hercules airdrops cargo to ground troops in support of their mission over Afghanistan on April 28, 2011. C-130’s transport cargo, personnel and airdrop to forward operating bases in the area of responsibility.

Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. -- FY10 marked another busy-but-safe year for the mighty Herk. Thankfully, we enjoyed zero fatalities or loss of aircraft. Given the mission-hacking pace of our fleet these days, this was a super effort. Your vigilance helped to make FY10 the Air Force's safest flying year ever.

Air Force-wide, this year's flight mishap rate was .70 as compared to last year's .90. Eight aircraft were lost this year, the same number as in FY09, compared to 15 in FY08. However, this year we suffered nine aviation fatalities, compared to six in FY09 and 13 in FY08. Class A flight mishaps totaled 14 this year, compared to 17 in FY09 and 13 in FY08.

In FY10 the C-130 community sustained one Class A aviation ground operations (AGO) mishap, three Class B mishaps and two Class B AGO mishaps. Special operations birds suffered the preponderance of damage in these two classes.

The sole Class A mishap (AGO) occurred when an MC-130P departed chocks during an engine run in icy conditions. A large ice pile stood ready to stop the aircraft but caused $2.4 million in damage. This mishap could have easily resulted in many fatalities (considering a prop was dislodged), but fortunately there was only one minor injury. The major lesson to take away is to never be afraid to sound your inner voice of concern, especially if it asks, "If we run up the engines on the ice, is it possible we might become a toboggan?"

The first Class B mishap involved birds versus an MC-130H during a low-level route. Ultimately the birds lost, but they took a chunk of a pricey aircraft sensor. The next mishap involved another pricey item, an MC-130P fuel drogue assembly, which separated during an air refueling mission. The third Class B mishap was sustained by an EC-130J that experienced damage to a prop gear box due to foreign object damage (FOD) -- paint brush bristles in the oil system. Lastly, an MC-130E sustained a fuel vent blockage by FOD resulting in an over pressurization of the fuel tank and damage to the wing.

My fellow crewdogs, how many times can we trip on a roller, fall out an exit or allow a pallet to run us over? This year's Class C mishaps totaled 108. Of those, 46 were injuries in and around the Herk -- that's 44 percent! The majority of the injuries were sustained by crewmembers and were a result of inattention or channelized attention. The other 56 percent were a result of jumper injuries, FOD and bird strikes.

Beyond the numbers, what are the takeaways from this year's mishaps? Proactive risk mitigation is key. If you're like me you read through your risk management (RM) computer-based training with due diligence. That means you clicked through the slides so fast you had to see the flight doc for carpal tunnel syndrome. The C-130 community is seeing an abundance of mishaps that could have easily been completely eliminated with good RM. Be aware of your environment, the risks you are taking and take the time needed to accomplish necessary tasks. Ask for help when you might need it. Stay watchful over yourself and your wingman.

Overall, FY10 was a great year for our fleet. Take some time to reflect on our successes but also our defeats. Fly safe!

Note: This article first appeared in Volume 4, Number 2, Spring 2011, page 21 of Wingman -- Airmen Taking Care of Airmen, The United States Air Force Journal of Aviation, Ground, Space and Weapons Safety.

Direct link: http://www.afsc.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-110322-006.pdf