Afghanistan airfield eating aircraft

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posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 01:15 PM
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After the surge began in 2009, the Army built a runway at Forward Operating Base Shank, to allow for reinforcements to fly in. Initially it was a clay runway that when it rained, no aircraft but helicopters could land (and them barely), because it turned to mud.

In 2010, it was reinforced to handle C-17s. The runway was built to be 7,000 feet long, which is right at the limits for a C-17, as long as they aren't maxed out on weight (they need 7,600 feet at MTOW, and 3.500 feet to land). The problem comes in when you realize that the runway is at 7,000 feet.

Due to the altitude, aircraft need to be going faster to get airborne, which means they have to be going faster to land. Add in the weather in Afghanistan, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

The first accident happened on Jan 23, 2012 when a C-17 crew "failed to recognize the landing distance exceeded the runway length". The aircraft slid off the end of the runway, and came to rest on an embankment, suffering major damage to the landing gear, antenna, and structural components. The Air Force was going to destroy the plane, but Boeing convinced them it could be repaired in place enough for a one time flight back to the US. The Air Force and Boeing sent a recovery team, who performed repairs to the aircraft, which allowed it to fly back to the US for permanent repairs.

Then on May 19th a C-130J flying in for a MEDEVAC mission, slammed into the runway, destroying the right side engines, and damaging the outboard portion of wing. It's known that some C-130 pilots prefer to perform a max performance landing (full flaps, steep glideslope, short landing) going into Shank due to the runway length and altitude. That aircraft still sits beside the runway while the ultimate cause is being investigated, but it's obvious that it involved a hard landing.

Fortunately, while both aircraft had people on them, no one was seriously hurt in either accident. Hopefully they can either extend the runway, or get us out of Shank before another accident happens and someone is hurt or killed there.


The Accident Investigation Board, convened by AMC, found that the cause of the mishap was the pilot and co-pilot failed to identify that the landing distance required to safely stop the aircraft exceeded the runway length. Additionally, the AIB president found that the failure to assess runway conditions for fixed wing operations at FOB Shank substantially contributed to the mishap.

The aircraft landed on a runway at FOB Shank, where the C-17A was unable to stop, departed the prepared runway surface, struck an embankment, and came to rest approximately 700 feet from the end of the runway. The aircraft sustained damage to the landing gear, cargo floor, undercarriage, antennas, and main structural components. There were no passengers, fatalities, significant injuries, or damage to civilian or other military property. The estimated cost to repair the C-17A is $69.4 million.

www.af.mil...


Afghanistan is just about the worst place in the world to wage a high-tech war. Rugged, landlocked, stitched by countless tall mountain peaks, laced by extreme weather and mostly undeveloped, Afghanistan makes getting anywhere by any method expensive, time-consuming and dangerous.

Just ask the passengers and crews of two U.S. Air Force cargo planes that met disastrous ends on the new airstrip at the military’s Forward Operating Base Shank, in Logar province just south of Kabul. Since last year a $200-milllion C-17 airlifter and one of the smaller, $70-million C-130Js have careered off Shank’s 7,000-foot-long runway, fortunately sparing their occupants’ lives but effectively wrecking both planes and briefly halting other air traffic.

medium.com...




posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 02:28 PM
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Density Altitude.

It's a ... well, you know.



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 02:32 PM
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reply to post by _Del_
 


That it is. It's also one thing that most pilots aren't really thinking about if they're not used to it.



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 03:24 PM
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Hi zaphod thanks for the read, s+f for you sir.

Surely they knew the take off and landing requirements of the C-17 before they built the runway, why did they build it too short?



King



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 03:26 PM
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reply to post by kingears
 


One possibility is that the terrain forced them to limit the length, since it's up in the mountains. I haven't seen a good overhead shot of the area to be able to say that's definitely why though.



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 03:34 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


I'm thinking that they haven't learned the lessons from WW2.

Maybe they should call the SeaBees in to solve their problems. They're common sense sort of guys.



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 04:13 PM
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Wonder if it was even a US Air Force pilot flying it.

Could have been an Aussie or a pilot from some other country. 7,000 feet ain't too short for a C-17. Unless....there were other factors at play....like unsecured cargo that moved when she touched down.

AMC aint got the personnel they used to have.

The C-130 could have been flown by MERC's. They ride them like they stole 'em. No fear of losing rank....they're on contract to fly.



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 05:05 PM
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Well, you can always fly 'em off the edge if it's on a mountain, just take the runway right to the lip...


Brings a whole new meaning to "commit" - the speeds today here are V1, V2, and Holy Jesus.



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 05:35 PM
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reply to post by Bedlam
 


My father was working on BUFFs out at Anderson during Vietnam, and that's about what they did. One of the runways ends at the top of a cliff, and even with water the birds would drop below cliff top level and world vanish until between three and five miles out.
edit on 6/13/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 05:43 PM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by _Del_
 


That it is. It's also one thing that most pilots aren't really thinking about if they're not used to it.


I find it hard to believe that guys coming into the theatre haven't been hammered over the head about the "hot and high" conditions.



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 05:49 PM
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reply to post by _Del_
 


Yes but uppity would also think they had it hammered into their head to put the gear down before landing, and I can think of four without even trying where the crew forgot to put the wheels down.



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 08:32 PM
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But in this case, it's simple math and charts to show whether or not the landing will be safe at a given weight/condition. They should be able to do that before you leave the ground. Either the specs for the field aren't right or there is a systematic failure -- not only should the pilots catch that, but even when the mission is tasked, someone ought to be looking at it.
It's still conceivable that someone just didn't take advantage of all the available room, it just seems odd to have a recurring problem in that light.



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 11:19 PM
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not accounting for density altitude is a common enough error in aviation.....



Add in a bit of overloading.....
edit on 13-6-2013 by Aloysius the Gaul because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 11:27 PM
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reply to post by _Del_
 


There was speculation for the C-17 accident that weather played a role. If the winds shifted and they didn't have a current update that could have played a role. The information may have been current for their departure, but not on arrival.

Here is the complete accident report for the C-17 accident. Miscommunication directly led to the accident.

usaf.aib.law.af.mil...
edit on 6/13/2013 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 14 2013 @ 12:02 AM
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The Accident Investigation Board, convened by AMC, found that the cause of the mishap was the pilot and co-pilot failed to identify that the landing distance required to safely stop the aircraft exceeded the runway length.


WTF? Isn't more like "The length of the runway at the location they were ordered to fly to was insufficient given the capability of the aircraft they were ordered to fly with."



posted on Jun, 14 2013 @ 12:25 AM
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Originally posted by mbkennel


The Accident Investigation Board, convened by AMC, found that the cause of the mishap was the pilot and co-pilot failed to identify that the landing distance required to safely stop the aircraft exceeded the runway length.


WTF? Isn't more like "The length of the runway at the location they were ordered to fly to was insufficient given the capability of the aircraft they were ordered to fly with."


You forgot the rule, as immutable as the first law of motion. # rolls downhill.



posted on Jun, 14 2013 @ 04:27 AM
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reply to post by mbkennel
 


The crew was told there was equipment near the end of the runway, but full length was "at the pilots discretion". They apparently misunderstood this and thought the controller was saying not to touch down until between 1000 and 1200 feet down the runway. If they had touched down at the end, they would have had enough room to stop, but they didn't touch down until about 1100 feet down the runway.

They also thought they had input "fair" into the braking system, which would have applied the autobraking harder than normal (the runway had snow and ice on it at the start of the day, and still had some snow on it when they touched down), but they didn't input it into the system correctly, and landed in normal mode.



posted on Jun, 14 2013 @ 08:43 AM
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They should install software to automatically detect when an overrun may occur. The A350 will have it:


The Airbus A350's pilots will have, as standard, an advanced landing safety function that will warn the pilots, during approach, of the risk of runway overrun. This is the most common type of airline accident, occasionally fatal but almost always damaging to the aircraft.

ROPS does much more. It provides the pilots, during approach, with a visual display of where the aircraft will stop on the selected runway in both dry and wet conditions if the aircraft carries out a standard stabilised approach at the correct speeds. If the runway is too short, the stop lines show beyond the end of the runway, and the pilots receive spoken and visual warnings.

This GPS-linked function is active in real time, so if the pilots approach to fast or too high, or land too far down a runway that originally showed as sufficiently long, the visual information about stopping positions is continually adjusted and warnings are activated if necessary.

When ROPS provides the stopping point designators early in the approach, it assumes you will fly a standard profile at standard reference speeds, crossing the threshold at 50ft (15m) and putting the aircraft down in the touchdown zone. But if the aircraft is high and fast on approach, the ROPS knows, and the stopping point designators move away down the runway.

An extended flare will have the same effect. If the stop bars move beyond the runway end at any stage, the pilots get two warnings: one scripted on the primary flight display in red capital letters saying "runway too short", and a recorded voice saying the same words.

www.flightglobal.com...
edit on 14/6/13 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 14 2013 @ 08:43 AM
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Originally posted by Aloysius the Gaul
not accounting for density altitude is a common enough error in aviation.....



Add in a bit of overloading.....
edit on 13-6-2013 by Aloysius the Gaul because: (no reason given)


"And the vodka burner is running" haha



posted on Jun, 22 2013 @ 12:34 AM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by kingears
 


One possibility is that the terrain forced them to limit the length, since it's up in the mountains. I haven't seen a good overhead shot of the area to be able to say that's definitely why though.


The base can be found here in Google Earth:
33°56'43.14"N
69° 3'33.74"E

FOB Shank sits at about 7,000 feet above sea level. Boeing seems to think that with full flaps and a steep landing angle, there is plenty of runway at that elevation for a C-17 with 160,000 lbs of cargo to land. They estimate somewhere just shy of 6,000 feet of runway is required.






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