C-32 Carrying SecDef On 2023 Trip Experienced Hard Landing, Damage


Credit: USAF

A U.S. Air Force C-32 carrying Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his staff experienced a hard landing during a visit through the Middle East in March 2023, causing more than $2.5 million in damage to the modified Boeing 757

The Air Force Safety Center disclosed the incident in a list of Class A and B mishaps for the service in fiscal 2023. Air Mobility Command in a statement said the March 8, 2023, incident involved a C-32 from the 89th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, that was supporting Austin’s movements through U.S. Central Command when the incident happened in Jordan. The aircraft’s aft fuselage struck the runway during the landing sequence, causing a tail skid and sheet metal abrasions.

“The pilots landed the aircraft safely. However, there was damage to the tail upon landing,” AMC says. “The damage was solely to government property; the aircraft was not destroyed and there were no injuries to personnel.”

Media pool reports from the trip note that the landing conditions were windy and resulted in mechanical damage to the aircraft. Austin later flew C-17s to other locations on the trip before returning to the U.S. on the smaller C-40, a modified Boeing 737. Media members and some staff members were required to book commercial flights home.

The incident was classified as a Class A mishap, meaning it caused damage of more than $2.5 million.

The Air Force flies four of the modified 757-200s for secure VIP transport, at times serving as “Air Force One” for the president.

During the March 2023 trip through the Middle East, Austin visited Jordan, Egypt and Israel with a specific focus on countering threats from Iran, according to the Pentagon.

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.