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Royal Canadian Air Force releases report on 2012 Hercules accident in Florida

The Directorate of Flight Safety (DFS) released the Flight Safety Investigation Report into an accident involving a CC-130 Hercules.

Released on April 8, the report details how a fire erupted on board causing irreparable damage to the aircraft while one CAF member suffered minor injuries.

Prior to the Feb. 21, 2012 accident, the 435 Transport and Rescue Sqn. was deployed to the Opa-Locka Executive Airport (KOPF) in Florida to provide air-to-air refuelling support to CF188 fighter aircraft.

On Feb. 21, the Hercules was set to take off from the Naval Air Station Key West when the loadmaster heard an electrical buzzing and observed a spark on the cargo ramp floor. Before he could put out the flames, a fireball erupted and only when it receded could the loadmaster move away from the fire to alert the rest of the crew.

Meanwhile, the flight had just taken off. However, the pilot was able to land due to sufficient runway remaining.

According to the report, the accident was caused by an electrical fire because of “deficiencies in a modification to install ground test connections to the auxiliary hydraulic system, resulted in chafing between the hydraulic pump motor power wire and a pressurized hydraulic flexible hose.  Electrical arcing between the wire and the hose resulted in a pin-hole breach of the flexible hose, release of hydraulic fluid under high pressure, and initiation of the fire.”

The DFS notes in the report that the condition could have been detected prior to the accident and called for better training measures.

“Complacency likely came into play in that the area was looked at many times, without actually seeing, understanding and/or correcting the problem. The short term solution to counter these human factors is through proper technical training, but the long-term solution that will pay the greatest dividends is to train the minds of our technicians to expect to find problems every time they do an inspection,” stated the report.

The report also acknowledged the quick thinking of the pilot and crew most likely saved their lives.

“…the quick decision of the crew to land immediately almost certainly prevented a catastrophic accident with loss of life.  Definitive procedures available to cover all emergency situations do not exist, and for this reason checklists, CFTO’s and other publications clearly stipulate that above all else, good judgement and professionalism must prevail,” stated the report.

Since the crash, DFS has worked closely with the CC-130 Hercules technical authorities to implement safety preventive measures, including a series of inspections and modifications. The report contained a detailed section of preventative measures taken and recommended.

To read the report, visit the Flight Safety website.


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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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