Narrative:A USAF Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker had landed at Bishkek (FRU) at 20:03 following a combat mission over Afghanistan. After landing, the KC-135R was parked at the intersection of the active runway and a taxiway while the crew awaited clarification on instructions from the air traffic control tower. Meanwhile, a Tupolev 154M of Altyn Air (EX-85718) had been cleared for takeoff on runway 08. The TU-154's right wing struck the fairing of the KC-135R's No. 1 engine. The force of the impact nearly severed the No. 1 engine from KC-135R and destroyed a portion of the aircraft's left wing. The TU-154 lost approximately six feet of its right wingtip, but was able to get airborne and return to the airport for an emergency landing. The KC-135 caught fire and sustained extensive damage.
Probable Cause:Although the AIB determined the principal cause of the mishap was the Kyrgyzaeronavigation controller clearing the TU-154 for takeoff without verifying that KC-135R was clear of the runway, there was evidence the following factors also contributed to the mishap:
- The Kyrgyz air traffic controller's instruction to vacate at taxiway Golf after dark conflicted with a published Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that limited that taxiway's use to daylight hours. The contractor safety liaison (LNO) employed by the U.S. Air Force to facilitate communication between its aircrews and Kyrgyz controllers did not clarify the apparent discrepancy.
- After questioning the Kyrgyz controller's instruction to vacate the runway at taxiway Golf, the LNO instructed the KC-135R crew to hold short of Alpha. The mishap KC-135R crew misperceived the LNO's instructions and responded "holding short of Golf." The LNO failed to catch the read-back error.
- The Kyrgyz controller failed to maintain awareness of the KC-135R's location.
- The LNO failed to maintain situational awareness and intervene when the controller's actions endangered the KC-135R and aircrew.
» KC-135 Accident Investigation Board complete (Air Mobility Command Public Affairs, 20-12-2006)
» Kyrgyz aircraft collision: No injuries
» Kyrgyz presidential jet damaged in collision with U.S. tanker - 1 (RIA Novosti 27-9-2006)
» ruffled feathers (Air Force Times 28-09-2006)
This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.