The U.S. Air Force plans to conduct a “safety review” of its aviation operations later this month to address a recent series of mishaps, including a WC-130H Hercules crash last week that killed nine airmen.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told all Air Force wings with flying and maintenance functions to finish the one-day review by May 21. 

C-130. Photo: Air Force.
A C-130. (Air Force photo)

“During the safety review, commander-led forums will gather feedback from airmen who execute the Air Force’s flying operations and challenge airmen to identify issues that may cause a future mishap,” the service said May 8.

While the Air Force has seen a decline in severe aviation mishaps over the past decade, its manned aviation mishap rate has risen since fiscal year 2018 began Oct. 1.

“We cannot afford to lose a single airman or weapons system due to a mishap that could have been prevented,” Goldfein said.

The WC-130H went down May 2 shortly after takeoff from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Savannah, Ga. The Lockheed Martin [LMT]-built cargo plane had been headed to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona for decommissioning.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. The Puerto Rico Air National Guard, which operated the plane, has grounded the rest of its WC-130H fleet.

The Air Force announcement came a day after Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), proposed creating an independent commission to review how aviation accidents can be reduced across the military (Defense Daily, May 7).

Smith plans to offer his proposal as an amendment to the FY 2019 defense authorization bill, which the HASC is slated to take up May 9.