Aviation Accidents to Come Under House Scrutiny

NGAUS Washington Report
June 12, 2018

The House Armed Services tactical air and land subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday to probe the recent spike of military aviation accidents.

The hearing on the Defense Department safety mishap and review process will feature safety officials from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

It comes after a Military Times investigation updated May 6 found fatal military aviation accidents have reached a six-year high, in both the number of accidents and the number of personnel killed.

Defense officials have said the matter is “not a crisis.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the House Armed Service Committee chairman, has said he believes budget cuts in recent years have contributed to the increase in aviation accidents, but also pledged to delve further into the issue with a hearing.

At least one former senior Air Force general agrees.

“We are reaping the benefits—or the tragedies—that we got into back in sequestration,” said retired Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, told Military Times, referring to the 2013 cuts.

House lawmakers included a new review of the aviation problems in their version of the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, and have promised more oversight on the issue in months to come.

The Military Times investigation found that 35 military pilots and crew had died in 12 fatal accidents—11 crashes and one ground incident—since Oct. 1, 2017.

Thirteen of the dead were in the Air National Guard. An Alaska Air Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter went down in Iraq in February, killing all seven aboard, including four members of the New York Air Guard and two Air Force Reservists and a member of the active Air Force.

On May 2, a Puerto Rico Air Guard C-130W cargo plane carrying nine Puerto Rio Air Guard pilots and crew went down in Georgia on what supposed to be its final flight. Everyone on board perished.