WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The incorrect placement of a night vision goggles case caused a U.S. military transport plane to crash in Afghanistan in October, killing 14 people, the U.S. Air Force said in a report.
At the time of the crash, a spokesman for the Taliban said its fighters had shot down the aircraft, but even then the U.S. military had said enemy fire was not suspected as a factor in the crash.
The Air Force report, released last week, said that in order to provide more space while loading and offloading cargo at Jalalabad airfield, the pilot had put the case in front of the yoke to hold the elevators in place.
However, the report said, because the pilots were flying at night and wearing night vision goggles, “neither pilot recognized and removed” the case.
During takeoff the plane climbed rapidly which lead the co-pilot to misidentify the issues as a trim malfunction.
This caused the aircraft to stall and crash 28 seconds after takeoff.
The report added that because the blocking of flight controls during loading is a “non-standard” procedure, there is no “regulatory guidance to prohibit the act, or to address the proper placement and removal of the object blocking the controls.”
Six U.S. military service members and five civilian contractors who were employed by the U.S.-led international force in Afghanistan were killed in the crash. Three Afghan nationals were also killed.
“Our hearts go out to the family members and friends of those killed in this accident,” said Brigadier General Patrick Mordente, who led the accident investigation board, in a statement.
Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Sandra Maler