Wake Turbulence, Flying Discipline Likely Doomed IAF C-130J

The Indian Air Force's C-130J Super Hercules that crashed March 28 in central India is likely to have impacted the ground during a low-level tactical sortie after being thrown out of control by wake turbulence (Indian Express report here) of the lead C-130J flying in front of it.

I had tweeted after the accident about how initial indicators pointed to the high possibility of a sudden loss of control at 1,000 feet, giving the trailing aircraft's crew virtually no time to recover.

The IAF's former flight safety boss (and then AOC-in-C, Western Air Command) Air Marshal P.S. Ahluwalia tells me, "From the information available, there appears to have been a breach of flying discipline on two fronts. One, by the ill-fated aircraft, which may not have updated and compensated its flight path to accommodate wake and other turbulence during closely formated flight. And two, by the lead aircraft itself."

Either way, the ill-fated crew likely had only seconds to apply corrective measures, grossly insufficient to right the aircraft at such low altitude. Investigations into the circumstances of the shock accident are still underway. Expect updates.

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