A cable used to catch a landing E-2C Hawkeye snapped on the flight deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower back in March. 8 sailors were injured, but the pilot of the E-2C Hawkeye was able to maintain control and keep the plane airborne.
Let me tell you what folks, this is scary stuff and it could have been a lot worse. The video above is something that makes my stomach turn. The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is one of the most dangerous places on earth. I personally was never comfortable walking around topside during flight operations. Most folks made it a point to get into or out of the aircraft as quickly as possible and head straight below decks.
Sailors working on the flight deck risk their lives everyday, and this is just one example.
In this video, a VAW-123 Screwtop based on the USS Eisenhower is coming in for a day landing. The first view is from the ILARTS (Integrated Launch and Recovery Television Surveillance) system. This is a stationary camera embedded into the landing area. The second view is from the manned camera in the tower that follows aircraft through the landing sequence.
The E-2C comes in for a normal day trap and actually catches the #4 wire. However, on the pullout, the arresting wire snaps and the Hawkeye continues to roll out. Pilot procedure is to be a full military power upon touchdown for cases exactly like this. Full military power allows the aircraft to regain enough power to get airborne. The pilot does a tremendous job of staying with the aircraft and maintaining controllability as it sinks well below the carrier flight deck.
According to a Navy report obtained by The Virginian-Pilot through a Freedom of Information Act request, maintenance personnel missed at least one and possibly two “critical steps” while working on an engine that helps operate the carrier flight deck’s cables.
In recent years, the Mk 7 arresting gear used in Nimitz class carriers has gone through several upgrades making them digitally controlled. A US Navy report on the incident said there was a “lack of procedural compliance” while troubleshooting an error code from a previous arrested landing. However, the error code clearance procedure lacked warnings, other notations and wasn’t “user friendly”.
Eight sailors suffered a variety of injuries, including a fractured ankle, wrist, pelvis and legs. One sailor received skull and facial fractures while another suffered a possible traumatic brain injury.
The USS Eisenhower began flying combat sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve from the eastern Mediterranean Sea about two weeks ago. The carrier replaced the USS Harry Truman who accumulated more than 2000 strikes against ISIL.
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Editor’s correction: E2 and C2s land at their approach power setting
Top Photo credit: VAW 123 Screwtops from USS Eisenhower, US Navy photo Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class George R. Kusner
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