MAFFS Crash Ruled Pilot Error

The aircrew’s failure to properly identify dangerous weather conditions and abort was the key factor in the fatal North Carolina Air National Guard C-130 crash during July 1 firefighting operations in South Dakota, Air Mobility Command investigators determined. Despite an impending thunderstorm, the crew elected to continue dropping retardant on wildfires in the area. The Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped Hercules flew through a “microburst,” causing the aircraft to strike the ground, according to a Nov. 14 release summarizing the report. “If you add all the pieces up, it was very clear they shouldn’t have attempted the second drop,” said Brig. Gen. Randall Guthrie who led the investigation, quoted by Stars and Stripes. Investigators said that poor communication with the spotter aircraft and conflicting storm avoidance guidelines also contributed to the mishap. The aircraft and crew were assigned to ANG’s 145th Airlift Wing at Charlotte, N.C. The full Accident Investigation Board report has not yet been cleared for public release, AMC spokesman Capt. Neil Samson told the Daily Report.