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-   -   CO writes off P-3 (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/379667-co-writes-off-p-3-a.html)

FishHead 30th Jun 2009 14:11

CO writes off P-3
Couldn't find this in a search, some interesting points for COs out there
Report: Pilot in crash behind on training - Navy News, news from Iraq - Navy Times
Report: Pilot in crash behind on training

The commanding officer of a P-3 Orion squadron who overshot a runway and crashed a specialized $93 million plane in Afghanistan last year was not current on his flight-hour requirements and was violating Navy rules prohibiting jet-lagged pilots from flying, investigators found.

Cmdr. Llewellyn Lewis, 41, was fired shortly after the Oct. 20 mishap when he was piloting the P-3 that missed the runway and went up in flames at Bagram Air Base. He was the commanding officer of Special Projects Patrol Squadron 1 based at Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine.

Lewis brought the plane in too fast, hit the brakes and skidded off the runway. The starboard landing gear was sheared off, two starboard side propellers broke off and the right wing caught fire as the plane came to a stop, an investigation found. One crew member suffered a twisted ankle and all five walked away from the aircraft.

Lewis had failed to meet the pilot proficiency requirements — at least 10 flight hours per month — for five of the six months preceding the crash, according to the Judge Advocate General Manual report, or JAGMan.

Lewis assigned himself as pilot of the plane after he had traveled across 9˝ time zones during the previous 46 hours. Despite regulations requiring several days of rest after such a trip, he took the controls 14 hours after arriving at a forward operating base, the name of which was redacted.

“[Lewis] failed to exercise sound and reasonable judgment and through his negligence he destroyed the aircraft and put the crew in unnecessary danger. He didn’t know or understand he did not have sufficient runway to stop the aircraft,” the report concludes.

He “could have and should have” aborted the landing and tried again, the report says.

According to the report, Lewis was unable to sign for the aircraft because his name was not in the maintenance database. But, the report said, he told the crew: “No question here. I am the CO and this is my aircraft.”

A crew member told investigators that Lewis “had to be coached on nearly all aspects of the combat arrival.”

When asked why he failed to maintain pilot proficiency, Lewis “said that CO duties, his desire to spread flight time with junior pilots and aircraft availability” were factors.

But Lewis’ commander said: “I found his excuses for not flying to be unpersuasive. He was not setting the proper example for his squadron,” according to the report.

Under Navy rules, pilots should allow an additional day for each hour exceeding a three-hour time change. When asked why he didn’t follow those guidelines, Lewis told investigators, “That’s never been our culture.”

Just before the crash, Lewis failed to run through the landing checklist at 500 feet. He told investigators that the checklist is “just a technique.”

Lewis tried to blame the crash in part on the cockpit arrangement, saying he “did not have airspeed in my scan as much as I would” in other versions of the P-3. But investigators said there was no significant difference in the placement of the airspeed indicator in the various aircraft models Lewis flew.

After the crash, when he climbed out of the burning plane, Lewis laid down on the wing and put his hands over his head. He said he “stopped there for a second, when the enormity of the whole thing hit him.”

Two flight engineers grabbed his boot and yanked him off the wing as a crash crew responded to extinguish the flames.

VPU-1 flies a specialized version of the recon plane, the P-3 “Reef Point,” which includes additional long-range cameras and electro-optical sensors.

After he was relieved of command, Lewis was assigned to Joint Special Operations Command, Aviation Tactics Evaluation Group, at Fort Bragg, N.C., Navy records show.
Some nasty pics of the aircraft contained on the URL above :ooh:

BEagle 30th Jun 2009 16:10

A great shame.

A textbook case for the Flying Supervisor's Course (assuming it still exists).

airborne_artist 30th Jun 2009 16:30

And what happened to the person who authorised the flight, who was at least as much at fault, by the looks of things....

Stuff 30th Jun 2009 16:34

Wouldn't be overly surprised if he self-authed.

Deliverance 30th Jun 2009 16:49

I'm glad we don't have rules for minimum flight hours per month in the RAF, how many FJ crews not on ops achieve that measly figure? :oh:

airborne_artist 30th Jun 2009 16:56

Wouldn't be overly surprised if he self-authed.
In which case this is a good "I learned about..from that" example that self-auth'ing is a potential nightmare.

FOGII 30th Jun 2009 17:03


I happen to have a folder on my desk that has to do with something similar but no mishap. OPNAVINST 3710 chap 3 para 3.5.1 has a note about current qualified personnel in command that while they may command the aircraft:
The provisions of the two above paragraphs shall not be used to circumvent normal NATOPS qualification procedures if the officer desires to physically pilot the acft. Flights that require a NATOPS qualified crew shall not be physically piloted by any individual not so qualified; however the flight may be directed by the officer embarked.

The squadron CO signs the flight schedule after it is screened by Ops and DSS for crew proficiency. The computer program used to is supposed to be used was designed by computer geeks for a perfect world, one in which the on line data bases always talk to each other and there are no other glitches.

Minimums can be waived by the CO after advisement by the relevant staff subject matter experts.


spheroid 30th Jun 2009 17:33

If he wasn't current then he can't self- Auth..... Thats t'rule in the Andrew.... 10 hrs a month isn't much either......surely thats just 1 sortie in a P3..?

akula 30th Jun 2009 17:36

I do hope that his pre-flight consisted of kicking the tyres and lighting the fires.

ALWAYS assume NEVER check
(ironic eh?)

Gainesy 30th Jun 2009 17:41

I feel kind of sorry for him, trying to get the job done, war zone etc.

FOGII 30th Jun 2009 18:30

Both the USMC and USN the Commanding Officer, Acting CO or detachment CO signs the flight schedule. Copies of the flight schedule are forwarded to higher at least one day prior to the flight schedule's execution.

If standby, alert, etc. lines then the crew(s) are to be current and qualified for all the missions they can be assigned.

Crew, mission, or training code changes on the day of execution are to routed through the same chain as the original flight schedule unless a role-ex plan has already been incorporated into the original flight schedule.


Pontius Navigator 30th Jun 2009 20:32

More senior officers have tried to kill me than have junior jet jocks. Its all in the log book. One SO, eventually ACM, was so 'good' that I contrived never to fly with him as Captain.

Some that I have flown with have been a MRAF, now he was both good and safe but he had done 500 hours a year as a wg cdr, an AM (as a wg cdr) who tried to get my pilot to kill me, an AVM who as a sqn ldr and my captain and also tried to kill me at least twice, an Air Cdre but we knew his technique so we kept out of his way if we could, an Air Cdre (then wg cdr) that tried to get my AVM to kill me, an Air Commodore (as a gp capt) again who had a good go.

There must be something in the march to the stars that makes them different.

FOGII 30th Jun 2009 20:52


The note I pasted is from a document signed by the Secretary of the Navy in compliance with a directive from the Secretary of Defense. The note is written in blood.

There is a strong tendency to "I remember when I could do such and such" combined warm versions of self delusions far removed lengthy and detailed debriefs. Add the proportion of rank gradient that can go with the scenario and you have a not so tasty result.S/F, FOG

FJJP 1st Jul 2009 00:42

Like Pontius, I have flown with a number of V senior officers at various times in my career. One 4-star had about 1500 hours total, but he was exceptional in his handling of a big aircraft he had never flown before. I would class him as a natural. With a fast jet background, he was fast-tracked throughout his career [as a single-seat - even faster].

I have also met some COs who turned out to be arrogant sons-of-bitches with whom I would not climbed aboard an airframe - they were dangerous, with an over-inflated sense of their abilities and who believe that the rules don't always apply to them. One I flew with did not know the correct procedure for flying in certain hazardous conditions, yet proceeded to incorrectly criticised a pilot for flying that particular procedure.

This occurance seems to me to be that kind of incident.

The P3 inquiry will ascertain the facts - I await their findings with interest...

On the other hand, on 6 Jul we will bury an outstanding CO who was exceptional in every way, and with whom it was my very great privilege to fly.

Flight Detent 1st Jul 2009 03:33

What's wrong with this guy, even following a combat approach, the P3 (any model) doesn't need wheel brakes, those four great big paddles can be selected into reverse before touchdown and are MUCH more efficient at stopping the airplane on a dime, if necessary.


grobace 1st Jul 2009 08:28

Deliverance says: I'm glad we don't have rules for minimum flight hours per month in the RAF, how many FJ crews not on ops achieve that measly figure?

You do surprise me. I've been out of touch with the front line for nearly 15 years, but at that time station executives on FJs were allocated 10 hrs a month. This was also considered to be a target. It was acknowledged that this might not be achievable on a regular basis, but Group HQ would ask awkward questions if you failed to get 30 hrs a quarter.
IIRC the 10 hr a month rule was introduced in the 60s following a couple of incidents/accidents in the Lightning force involving pilots in ground appointments who were a bit short of recent flying practice.

c130jbloke 1st Jul 2009 08:33

I agree with Beags that this has the look of a good case study, but the question is how the hell did he get so far in the first place ?

Wader2 1st Jul 2009 10:23

C130j, does Dutch Holland ring a bell?

It is often easier to turn a blind eye to a 'good bloke' but shaft a nobody who makes a minor error.

We had a drunk on our sqn and everyone knew except the flt cdr would do nothing - easy option. Eventually the guy was posted to Binbrook Ops and someone had the balls to chop him.

c130jbloke 1st Jul 2009 10:29

C130j, does Dutch Holland ring a bell?

Yes, lots of big ones. Which is all the more reason to wonder that if this guy was out of control, how come the system did not pick it up earlier.

As I said, would make for a good case study...

Rossian 1st Jul 2009 15:48

It's the culture....
In my limited time working with the USN and for a USN Captain, the phrase I grew to dislike was:

"Navy can do!!" - even when it was apparent that they couldn't, and in several cases, shouldn't. It led us down blind alleys and into situations we didn't need to be in.

Almost on a par, was the phrase "Of course I never take my leave. Anyone who can take two weeks leave hasn't really got a job!" Yeah right.

You can almost hear the guy saying "Rest is for wimps, I can hack it!"

Bosses like that we can all do without.

The Ancient Mariner

woptb 1st Jul 2009 17:29

The guy may be a pr1ck,but I'd say its extremely doubtful that there were no systemic failures in oversight that 'assisted' him off the end of the runway.

Deliverance 1st Jul 2009 17:56

I think it's the price of owning more squadrons than we have money to fund. The figure you are talking about for execs is not far from the truth, but for frontline crews. And we used to laugh at 'third world' air forces on a paultry 15-hrs a month!

West Coast 1st Jul 2009 20:10

Navy Cmdr. Llewellyn Lewis was piloting this modified P-3 Orion
Modified indeed.

Captain Sand Dune 2nd Jul 2009 03:21

That CMDR Llewellyn stuffed up is without doubt. But as others have pointed out to ignore the possibility of systemic failures would be foolish. I hope the report includes an objective analysis of any possible systemic contributors.
CMDR Llewellyn sounds like a good (or bad, whichever way one looks at it) example of the “can do” attitude gone wrong. My guess is this is more common in other countries’ military aviation arms than we may care to admit.
I would be interested if the report includes any discussion about the pressures on CMDR Llewellyn brought to bear from above.
[QUOTE]When asked why he failed to maintain pilot proficiency, Lewis “said that CO duties, his desire to spread flight time with junior pilots and aircraft availability” were factors.[QUOTE]
Does this sound familiar?
I concur that CMDR Llewellyn should have been punished for this incident, but I wonder if this is yet another example of the entire blame for an incident being focussed on only one person.

FOGII 2nd Jul 2009 15:25

The endorsing chain is the chain of command. In other words the endorser would at least have to find himself if not the system culpable.

1994 I remember being part of a review with new DOD civilians, congressional staffers, and military. The upshot was that we were wasting resources by setting standards too high and training for too many missions as evidenced by lower mishap rates in certain communities. They singled out the Herk and Hornet communities comparing similar missions to their sister services and the quote the stands out was "when you start dying more then you might need more money but for now you need less cause you aren't spending much blood."

I know of USMC squadrons that when you divide their yearly flight hours by their assigned pilots (i.e. in the squadron and not authorized to fly staff pilots) there are not enough flight hours to maintain legal annual minimums, even with maximum simulator utilization. Part is flight hour funding and part is lack of airframe life left.

Neither excuse not blame but should the squadron CO already but qualified in most missions and be tasked with getting the highest average qualifications and currency for his squadron or have an A team / B team where A is very current and made up of your meat eaters use them to work up your B team when the warning order arrives and you get more assets?

On the tactical approach in a P-3 there use to be a case study at the ASC course in Monterey. A P-3 unit tried to emulate the Herks assault landing after going up for some observation. Their attempt didn't do so well. Upon landing they thought it was pretty smooth but the wings had in fact departed as the gear are attached to the wings. The landing gear not being designed for a firm assault landing became the unplanned for factor. I have to wonder if that case study has been removed from the curriculum of the Commander's course.S/F, FOG

harrym 4th Jul 2009 17:56

CO writes off P3
The P3 incident, plus remarks by Pontius and FJJB, remind me that an occasional tendency by senior officers to think regulations regarding crew qualification did not apply to them is not a new problem.

Way back in the dark ages a certain AOC, when down route on tours of inspection, was wont to take the captain's place in the left hand seat. Arriving at Nairobi one day, the (real) captain pointed out that they were lined up on Nairobi West instead of the correct destination (Eastleigh), only to be told to shut up; the approach continued, with arrival on a too short runway ending inevitably in a cloud of dust and one wrecked York.

I personally found myself more than once in what might have been a similar scenario, when pressure was exerted to allow non-type qualified seniors into the pilot's seat, the most flagrant involving an air-ranking officer on a passenger-carrying transatlantic flight to North America. In the event common sense prevailed in both cases, though not without some grief in the latter.

One might have hoped that such nonsense now lies firmly in the past. although the P3 business might indicate otherwise.

Samuel 5th Jul 2009 01:43

I scrounged rides in anything going anywhere at RAF Eastleigh: Beverley, Twin Pioneer, Hastings, the station hack, a Pembroke etc, and even as a non-pilot I can't imagine how anyone could mistake Nairobi West, [ Wilson Airport from 1960 or so], for Eastleigh! Wilson Airport was purely light aircraft, and had none of the infrastructure, hangars etc, of Eastleigh. Blind Freddy himself wouldn't make that mistake!

Neptunus Rex 5th Jul 2009 06:57

A Great CO
In 1985 I was the Squadron QFI (Instructor Pilot for you USN types) on a P3 squadron in Australia. We were preparing for a night tactical training flight, which would include steep turns at 300 feet, with our CO in the left seat. The CO, affectionately known as 'Bunter,' was one of the best pilots I have ever flown with, and some years before he taught me to fly the P2 Neptune. Of course, as CO he did not get in as many flying hours as the other squadron pilots. We had completed our checks in the cockpit and were waiting for the sensor operators to finish their equipment checks. The Wing Commander CO turned to the Flight Sergeant flight engineer and asked
"What's your job then Jack?" The flight engineer started to tell the boss about systems monitoring, fuel management, emergency procedures et al when the CO stopped him, saying:
"Not quite, Jack. Tonight your job is to keep my a*se out of the water!"


MarkD 5th Jul 2009 23:12

Lewis was assigned to Joint Special Operations Command, Aviation Tactics Evaluation Group, at Fort Bragg, N.C.
All the slots flying rubber dogsh!t out of Hong Kong being taken?

stilton 7th Jul 2009 06:55

'A day off for each 3 hour time change'

I wish my Airline employer had rules like this !!

isaneng 7th Jul 2009 22:14

Can the P3 not select reverse in the air, or is it just SOP not to? IAS limit? (IAS/TAS/Lockheed trials airfield elevation, and sorry, Herc background, no P3 knowledge). Mind you, you don't half go down fast....... More an arrival than a landing.

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