Air Force Faults Local Air Traffic Controller For Kyrgyz Mishap

December 22nd, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Air Force Faults Local Air Traffic Controller For Kyrgyz Mishap

Mideast Stars and Stripes
December 21, 2006
By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force announced Wednesday that a Sept. 26 mishap between a KC-135 tanker and a Kyrgyz passenger plane at Manas International Airport in Kyrgyzstan was mostly the fault of a Kyrgyz air traffic controller.
This conclusion conflicts with a Kyrgyz investigation, which faulted the KC-135 for the incident.
The KC-135 had just landed after a mission over Afghanistan and was waiting for instructions from the air traffic control tower when it was struck by the Kyrgyz passenger plane, which was taking off from the same runway, according to a news release from Air Mobility Command.
The Kyrgyz passenger plane was forced to make an emergency landing, but none of the 61 passengers and crew was injured, the news release says. One of the three KC-135 crewmembers suffered minor abrasions while getting out of the tanker.
“The Accident Investigation Board, convened by AMC, determined that the accident was caused by the Kyrgyzaeronavigation air traffic controller who cleared a civilian airliner for takeoff without verifying that the KC-135R was clear of the runway,” the news release says.
However, the Air Force also found that the tanker crew and a U.S. liaison in the tower contributed to the incident by not ensuring that the tanker left the runway for a safe location following the landing, the news release says.
“The accident might have been avoided had any of them exercised better awareness of their situation,” the news release says.
Meanwhile, a Kyrgyz investigation into the incident found that the tanker crew was mainly at fault.
“[The] USAF crew did not leave runway after landing and completion of run with on-board air navigation and flashing lights being switched off,” according to the report, obtained by Stars and Stripes. “Aircraft became an obstacle for taking off TU-154 EX 85718 (the Kyrgyz passenger plane).”
The accident is one of a series of incidents that has marred U.S.-Kyrgyz relations.
In September, Air Force Maj. Jill Metzger disappeared in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek for three days. She was found three days later and claimed she had been kidnapped and escaped captors.
The Justice Department is looking into the incident.
On Dec. 6, an Air Force security officer shot and killed a Kyrgyz truck drive at Manas Air Base.
The incident has prompted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to call for renegotiating the 2001 agreement that governs the status of U.S. servicemembers stationed there so that local officials can prosecute U.S. troops who break the law.

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