The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Report: Crash that killed three caused by 'human factors'


August 26, 2017

Editor's note: This story has been altered from its original to include additional information.

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — The plane crash that killed three Cannon Air Force Base airmen on March 14 was caused by “human factors,” according to a report issued last month by the U.S. Air Force Aircraft Accident Investigation Board.

Capt. Kenneth Dalga, First Lt. Frederick Dellecker and Capt. Andrew Becker died instantly when their Pilatus U-28 crashed while they practiced approaches and landings near the Clovis Municipal Airport.

“I find by a preponderance of the evidence that the cause of the mishap was an ‘Overcontrolled/Undercontrolled Aircraft,’ resulting in the (crew) losing control of the aircraft when it stalled at low altitude,” read the report signed by Brig. Gen. Brad Sullivan, president of the accident investigation board.

The report showed the crew “attempted to arrest their excessive nose-down attitude, descent rate, and shallow bank angle by pulling back on the aircraft yoke and increasing bank angle.” That resulted in the aircraft losing “controlled flight,” the report showed.

“We don’t know if they overcontrolled or undercontrolled, which is why it says that,” said Capt. Emma Rush with Cannon’s public affairs office.

There were no indications of mechanical malfunctions related to the plane, which the report said was valued at $18.3 million.

The report did not specify which of the three airmen was controlling the plane when it went down.

While Rush said Cannon has not changed any of its routine procedures as a result of the accident or release of the report, Cannon Commander Col. Stewart Hammons said, "Emergency training procedures have been adjusted as a result of the findings and recommendations of the investigation."

Details related to those procedures are classified, he said.

The Pilatus U-28 planes are used by the military for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, officials have said.

The fatal accident was the first involving a Cannon plane in the Clovis area since 2002.


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