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INVESTIGATORS SAY PILOT ERROR LED TO C-17 CRASH

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas -- An Air Force accident investigation board determined pilot error led to the crash landing of a C-17A Globemaster III Jan. 23, 2012, at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan.

Investigators found that the pilot and co-pilot of the aircraft failed to identify the landing distance required to safely stop the aircraft exceeded the runway length. The accident report also said "failure to assess runway conditions for fixed wing operations at FOB Shank substantially contributed to the mishap."

The C-17A, assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., departed the prepared runway surface, struck an embankment and came to rest nearly 700 feet from the end of the runway, according to the report.

There were no fatalities or significant injuries to the six crewmembers aboard the aircraft. The C-17, however, sustained significant damage to the landing gear, cargo door, undercarriage, antennas and main structural components. Officials estimate it will cost $69.4 million to repair the aircraft. There was no other damage to military or civilian property.

"No one is immune to mishaps," said Col Tal Metzgar, Air Education and Training Command director of safety and a former C-17 pilot. "What can seem like a routine mission can change in the blink of an eye. That's why it's so important to follow checklists and remain vigilant at all times when flying multi-million-dollar aircraft."