HAVOC 77, Dyess AFB, TX, of the 40th Airlift Squadron, led by Maj Christopher J. Giuttari, received the AMC Director of Safety Aircrew of Distinction Award for their actions averting a potential flight mishap while aboard a C 130J on February 10, 2020.
The first 3 hours of the flight were uneventful. Then, as night fell, the Advisory, Caution, and Warning System alerted the crew that the aircraft’s two navigational systems were in disagreement.
It became clear as various members of the crew attempted to use the aircraft’s flight management systems (Communications Navigation and Identification Management Unit, or CNI-MU) to resolve the issue that technical difficulties with the equipment had rendered it unusable. The condition of the destination was overcast at 600 feet, meaning the airfield required an Instrument Landing System approach that the aircraft was unable to execute in its current state.
The Aircraft Commander decided to proceed to an alternate airfield and alerted Air Traffic Control (ATC) of their intention to execute a visual approach to that alternate. As the crew continued toward the alternate airfield, they lost all primary attitude references for both pilots, forcing the Aircraft Commander to use standby instruments. The copilot requested vectors from ATC to the airfield; however, the approach controller informed the crew that the weather had deteriorated. This information effectively eliminated the last suitable option for landing with visual flight rules within two hours of the aircraft’s position.
The Aircraft Commander decided to land immediately. The Aircraft Commander then successfully executed the no-gyro approach surveillance radar (ASR) in inclement weather at night using only standby instruments.During this flight, the crew’s actions saved not only a $70 million aircraft but the lives of its three crew members, whose professional competence, aerial skill, and devotion to duty prevented a potentially deadly mishap.