Canadian, French aircraft collision at Guam air base caused by human error

Royal Canadian Air Force

New details have emerged regarding the collision at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam between a Canadian military aircraft, the CC150 Polaris, and a French A400M transport aircraft. These revelations were part of a preliminary report on the incident issued by the Canadian Ministry of Defense on September 7, 2023. 

What happened? 

A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Airbus CC-150 Polaris bearing the designation 15003 and a French Air and Space Force (AAE) Airbus A400M transport aircraft collided on the ground at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam on July 21, 2023, when both aircraft were on the ramp. 

The Canadian aircraft was about to conduct a repatriation flight from Guam following Exercise Mobility Guardian 2023 which ran at the US Air Force base from July 5 to 21, 2023, and in which both the RCAF and the AAE participated.  

The CC150 Polaris, which belonged to the 8th Wing in Trenton, Ontario, had landed in Guam on the last day of the exercise to retrieve equipment and personnel. It was scheduled to depart the following day. The preliminary report provides additional context, stating that after arriving in Guam, the Canadian crew left the aircraft partially secured (without chocks) and departed the airfield for rest.  

On the morning of July 22, 2023, at approximately 10:30 AM local time, the Polaris unexpectedly began moving in reverse from its parking position, veering slightly to the left. It continued to move until the right horizontal and vertical stabilizer of the RCAF aircraft collided with the tail of the AAE A400M. 

The impact resulted in significant damage to both aircraft. Fortunately, no crew members or ground personnel were injured during the incident. 

A close-up of the damage (Royal Canadian Air Force)

According to the preliminary report issued on September 7, 2023, no evidence of technical issues with the Canadian aircraft has yet been discovered. The investigation is now focusing on procedures, communications, and human factors that may have contributed to this unexpected accident. 

The two aircraft are still marooned in Guam as the investigation and repairs are still underway. 

A recurring issue for the RCAF?

Another Airbus CC-150 Polaris, with the designation 15001, had also been damaged in a towing accident at CFB Trenton, Ontario on October 19, 2019. An investigation into this incident found that it resulted from the use of faulty chocks and inadequate training of towing personnel. Following extensive repairs conducted at Montréal–Mirabel International Airport (YMX), Québec, it returned to operational status on February 25, 2021.

On September 10, 2023, following the conclusion of the G20 Summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian delegation were left stranded in New Delhi due to unforeseen technical issues affecting 15001.  

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