224 killed, 186 military aircraft lost

*Pilots worry about being ‘the next accident’

US Military aviation accidents have led to the death of 224 pilots or aircrew, destroyed 186 aircraft and cost more than $11.6 billion since 2013

Several aviation watchers believe the numbers will keep rising, a congressional commission established to investigate those crashes had revealed.

The bipartisan National Commission on Military Aviation Safety was established by Congress“to make an assessment of the causes of military aviation mishaps” after a string of deadly military crashes in 2018.

The commission conducted confidential interviews with thousands of military pilots, maintainers, aircrew and ground crew and looked at five years of accident data from 2013 to 2018 to get a better understanding on why non-combat crashes were occurring.

McClatchy obtained a copy of the commission’s report, which was publicly released later on Thursday, according to the Global Upfront Newspaper.

“You’d like to think after 18 months we came up with some silver bullet recommendations,” Army Gen. Richard Cody, chairman of the commission, said in an interview with McClatchy. 

“But it’s a whole bunch of things that are out of balance.”

What they did hear repeatedly from pilots and maintainers was that the situation had not improved.

“We went to 80 different places, 200 different units,” said Cody, who over his 36-year military career flew more than 5,000 hours in Army helicopters.

“They all worried about being the unit that was going to have the next accident. Almost every interview,” he said.

In private, candid meetings, the commissioners asked service members: What do you think will cause the next mishap? The answers they got jarred them.

“The question of the next mishap was not hard to answer at one Marine base, where a junior Marine told the Commission that his unit was reusing expendable $5 filters on aircraft. 

The unit, he explained, still had missions to do even if there was no money to purchase new filters,” the commission reported.

Training cutbacks have also taken a toll and could hurt aviation safety down the road, pilots told the commissioners.

“This seems irreversible,” a Navy squadron commander told the commissioners. 

“I have increasingly unqualified people to teach the new generation who are then going to be less qualified to train the next generation,” the officer stated.

The cumulative effect was a demoralized military aviation force, Richard Healing, vice chairman of the commission, said on a call with reporters.

“The pilots were demoralized by not being able to fly enough, the maintainers were demoralized by not having parts,” said Healing, a former board member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

(Source: GlobalUpfront Newspaper).

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