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WATCH: Aircraft Nearly Crashes Into Sea During Landing Aboard USS Eisenhower
July 11, 2016 by Mike Schuler

new video released by the U.S. Navy shows the moment an E-2C Hawkeye aircraft nearly plunged into the water from the deck of the USS Eisenhower after an arresting cable snapped during a landing on March 18, 2016.

Details of the incident including video were released Friday by the Virginia-Pilot following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The video, which has since gone viral with more than 1.6 million views, shows the terrifying moment the arresting cable snaps, causing the aircraft to overshoot the runway and fall below the Eisenhower’s landing deck, only to appear moments later as it climbed back into view.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that eight sailors were injured in the incident. The U.S. Navy has blamed the accident on human error and an improperly programmed valve, the paper says.


Agelbert NOTE: The E-2C is a pocket sized version of the AWACS (B707 with a saucer on top). Back in the day when I worked airplanes, the E-2C was my favorite Navy aircraft. 

The Navy plays war games about 200 miles from land in various locations. They are called "Warning Areas" and have a number (e.g. W368").   

When the Warning area goes "hot", we ATCs had to vector civilian aircraft around the area. Inside, there would be fighters, aircraft carriers, submarines and E-2C aircraft fighting a mock war engagement.

When the exercise ended, all the birds that are not carrier based head for the nearest land base. Most of them are fighters with BINGO fuel status (Minimum fuel for a comfortable and safe return to base. Aircraft can fly and fight past bingo fuel in combat situations, but at considerable peril.)

This creates what is known as a "situation" for an Air Traffic Controller. 

WHY? Because I am faced with about 10 to 20 aircraft in a scattered group exiting the Warning area that all want to get to the Navy land base, most of which are BINGO fuel. I am supposed to give the BINGO fuel aircraft priority in sequencing but his makes no sense if a non-BINGO fighter is much closer to the base.  :P

In addition, it is well known among the fighter jocks that civilian ATC types cannot check their fuel gages to see if that pilot is trying to beat his pals to the base. ;)  ;D

Yes, fighter jocks are a sneaky lot. They are usually rather young, cocky and not very informative. YET, I still had to identify each one. THEN I had to give each and every one a clearance to the base (via radar vectors) and sequence them towards the base in enough order to avoid them getting too close to each other and the non-military aircraft out there.

The problem was complicated by some BINGO fuel fighter(s) calling several miles behind somebody CLOSER to the base who called a couple of minutes later.

So, faced with this huge pain in the arse situation, I would call on the E2-C that tracked everybody in the exercise, and knew where they all were, to ensure that the birds closest to the base called me first. This made my job quite a bit easier.

Alas, due to the nature of fighter jocks, this did not always work.  :(

If the flight conditions are visual, there is no requirement for a military aircraft exiting a Warning Area to call for a clearance. They can switch directly to the base tower/approach control frequency.

A flight of four that didn't want to "waste time" for a clearance by me went straight for the base. One of them mid-aired with another fighter I had just handed off to the base on approach. They were both killed. The Base tower controller went into a panic and closed down the base.

I then had to vector about 7 remaining aircraft with BINGO fuel to a civilian international airport about 20 miles away. It was a bag of worms but it all worked out. I received an at-a-boy from a squadron of F-14s at the base but that didn't bring back the people killed in the mid-air collision due to impatience and lack of respect for civilian ATC authority by fighter jocks.

Every time the Navy would have one of those war games on my watch, it was worry time. Unliike the fighter jocks, the E-2C crew were always professional and willing to help smooth the exit process from the Warning Area to the land base. 

E2-C pilots and crew  everywhere.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2016, 06:48:16 pm by AGelbert »
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them. Pr. 22:22-23


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