Initial findings of a probe into the crash of the Indian Air Force’s C-130J Super Hercules on March 28 indicate that it may have gone down due to turbulence caused by another C-130J flying ahead of it, a source told HT.
The four-engine aircraft had crashed near Gwalior barely an hour after it took off from the Agra airbase on a low-level flying mission along with another C-130J.
“Preliminary findings suggest that the plane encountered wake turbulence generated by the leading aircraft. It seems the aircraft was flying too close to the plane ahead of it,” the source said.
He added human error couldn’t be ruled out as the pilot could have avoided the leading plane’s turbulence by re-calibrating flight path.
Heavier planes that carry out low-level training are known to produce strong vortices. The ill-fated plane’s crew was simulating a manoeuvre to drop paratroopers in a combat zone from an extremely low altitude to evade detection by enemy radars.
As first reported by HT on March 31, the plane was flying 300 feet above ground level but had eased up to 1,000 feet, ruling out the possibility of crashing into a hillock. Wake turbulence accidents are most common at low altitude.
Five crew members were killed in the crash, the second ever fatal mishap involving a C-130J, known for its high survivability worldwide.
The black box and the cockpit voice recorder of the plane were sent to the US to decrypt data that is currently being examined by the IAF to piece together what happened.