Catching a Bad Drift

An Air Force-contracted DHC-8 Prospector aircraft crashed last October because the crew accidently drifted inland and impacted terrain during a counter narcotics mission off the Colombian coast, according to an April 23 Air Combat Command release. Four of the six crewmembers were killed and the two pilots were injured in the crash. The twin-engine surveillance aircraft, operated by Sierra Nevada Corp., was tracking a suspected drug trafficking boat from low-altitude on a US Southern Command mission from Panama when it crashed just over the border in Colombia, Oct. 4, 2013. “The cause of the mishap was the pilots’ failure to ensure the aircraft remained over water, which resulted in unplanned night flight over land at low altitude, and subsequent controlled flight into the terrain,” states the release, which accompanied the accident report. ACC investigators determined that poor aircrew cooperation, inoperative terrain avoidance equipment, and a lack of oversight contributed to the mishap. The aircraft was destroyed and $7.2 million worth of US government equipment was lost in the crash.