Poor maintenance contributed to a devastating C-130 crash.

| December 7, 2018

Posted at AnotherPat’s request.
Here’s how the Air Force will make sure it doesn’t happen again.
By: Valerie Insinna

WASHINGTON — Sloppy maintenance work at an Air Force depot was at the root of a tragic crash of a Marine Corps Reserve KC-130T that resulted in the deaths of 16 service members in July 2017.

According to a command investigation and about 2,000 pages of supporting documentation, obtained exclusively by Defense News and Military Times, a corroded blade broke off of the aircraft, sliced through the fuselage, and set off a chain of events that ended with the plane splitting into three pieces and crashing into a Mississippi soybean field.

The blade was last overhauled at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in 2011, where civilian maintainers are responsible for rooting out corrosion and other such problems. But although the investigators found evidence that small cracks and pits were already present in the propeller blade, maintainers did not properly treat it — allowing it to grow into a long fracture.

Now, the Air Force is taking steps to make sure that those mistakes are never repeated.

Read the rest of the article here at The Air Force Times

Category: Air Force, Politics

Comments (21)

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    • 5th/77th FA says:

      Damn. Read it all. Damn. As I had commented before, this is up close and right down the road from me. Union and some workers have had “issues” here. Navy didn’t want this work down here previously, and supposedly, the whole politics and money (shocked face) came into play.

      My man that is out there may be able to give a little more “off the record, rest of the story”. If he can, I’ll try to relay that.

      Bottom line. Some son of a bitch didn’t do the job that he/she is well paid to do, and innocent warriors lost their lives due to that. May that knowledge haunt them the rest of their lives. We may never know who’s at fault, but the person(s) knows who’s at fault.

      • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

        Just finished it… looks like more than one SOB didn’t do their job – looks like it was an ongoing cluster fuck. And, why would the AF and Navy have different standards for the same aircraft?

        • AW1Ed says:

          The Navy got that data point when a VP-47 P-3 threw a prop blade on number four engine (starboard wing, outboard) and wound up forcing an engine out ditch.
          All four engines.


          The pilots managed to successfully ditch the bird, without a single casualty.

          A month later, a barge and crane raised the aircraft and we discovered that the number four prop had thrown a blade. The imbalance of only three blades caused the engine to explode. The prop blade was thrown from right to left and cut through the body of the aircraft, severing 35 of 44 engine and flight control cables. Four of the cables cut went to the four engines. The cutting action caused a pulling action which shut down all four engine simultaneously. The hydraulic boost handle cables were cut and the APU fuel line was cut. The nine intact cables were two aileron cables, two elevator cables, two elevator trim tab cables and two rudder trim tab cables.The co-pilot’s main flight control cable was cut. VP-47’s crew nine flew under a lucky cloud that day.

  1. Wilted Willy says:

    I hope the maintenance crew can live with themselves?

    • NHSparky says:

      IIRC, the Alaskan Airlies maintenance supervisor that signed off on gundecked maintenance that caused the crash of Flight 261 ended up committing suicide.

  2. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    So was there a shortcut in maintenance in the name of the Almighty Dollar? If so then IMHO a special place in hell awaits the arrival of whomever decided to sacrifice lives to save a buck!

  3. MSG Eric says:

    Let me guess, they’ll pay that contractor and those civilians more money and ask them to not let it happen again, pretty please?

    Or, put strongly worded memos in their file and tell them it could hurt their bonus chances for the year?

  4. Azygos says:

    So the result of the report is we will implement these changes because it is now cheaper to do that, than to replace lost equipment and retrain new people to take over for the ones we killed.

  5. AnotherPat says:

    Thank You, Ed.

    This Military Times article (thank you, HMC Ret and Ed) goes into a bit more detail on that tragic event. It is long, has other links to include those of the reports, but is definitely worth reading:

    “Investigation Blames Air Force And Navy For Systemic Failures In Fatal Marine Corps C130 Crash That Killed 16”:


    Those Marines and the Sailor did not have to die.

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      “Those Marines and the Sailor did not have to die.” ^this^ Down right criminal.

      More finger pointing, plenty of blame to go around. I remember an obit from a little while back. Suicide of a RAFB C-130 worker. Wondering now if it may be related.

    • AW1Ed says:

      Thanks for the link, Pat.

  6. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    It seems a very thorough investigation with comprehensive guidelines for future repairs to this component.

    Here’s hoping this lesson was learned and won’t ever be repeated.

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      There is more to it than that. Blades that, per policy, should have been refurbished or condemned were given a coating to cover the corrosion. Like painting rotten wood, it masks the problem and does nothing whatsoever to address the problem. It was terribly convenient that records were destroyed, per policy, after only two years. Seems that the company followed that policy very well. This is sickening.

  7. Interesting, Marine Aircraft, civilian maintenance, Air Force base, so the blame is on the Air Force and Navy. Plane entered service in 1993, oh well give them investigators time and they will probably issue an arrest warrant for me as I touched a couple of the 130’s some time or other in the past. Just wonder who signed off on the air craft, knowing that there was a problem where was a Marine inspection team, not some Lt Col Reserve officer, to inspect the aircraft before they accepted it back. Believe is stated as to extra inspection if plane not flown over 8 weeks, granted it apparently in for major maintenance but 8 weeks, seems like long time for major maintenance, oh wait was civilians, most likely union shop, 8-4 shift, 2 or more coffee breaks, hour or more lunch, couple or more B/S sessions, ok doing the math, closest I can come is around 7 1/2 days actual work on plane. SNAFU to me from start to end. Regular service personal do more thorough and quality work under much more dire conditions as well as a more thorough inspection of known problem areas for a hell of a lot less pay and a lot longer hours.

  8. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    From what I read, this was a disaster waiting to happen, and it did. It is a sad and horrific case of civilian and military personnel not doing their jobs properly and fully, as prescribed and mandated by their own policies and procedures. That’s all I have, other than anger.

  9. HMC Ret says:

    I found myself tearing while reading this. This was avoidable. Those responsible are a group of well-paid, no load civil service, union-protected slugs. Also responsible are the military personnel who have the the final, absolute responsibility for work done at the facility. This is a good ol’ boy club which took shortcuts to get the product out the door. All that was required for this to not have happened was for individuals to take great pride in their work.

    The final sentence of the report sums up this criminal act quite well:

    “The culture at WR-ALC from 2011 to 2017 resulted in gross negligence of depot level maintenance personnel and practices that are the direct causal factor for this mishap.”

    Rest In Peace, Warriors. You deserved better.

  10. Ex-PH2 says:

    Words fail me on this.

  11. Mustang Major says:

    Interesting to know if the corrosion/crack in the propeller was something that unit level maintenance could have caught during preflight checks and unit level maintenance. Or, was it something only the depot level maintenance crews could have caught? Seems to me that six years is a long time to keep a propeller in service.

    A question for any C130 types out there- What is the overhaul requirement for propellers and blades? Is it flight hours? Is it calendar days? Or is it on condition?

  12. Dennis says:

    I had a kid working for me in 1969 who came close to losing not one, but two of our aircraft – one an HC-130, and the other a C-54. I did everything I could to have him either disciplined, or separated, and was told by those over me that “he was young and he’d get better”, or words to that effect. The Chief of Maintenance was one of those that agreed not to discipline him. After the second incident, I decided to work in the training office and leave the pampered child behind.

    Karma did catch up with the Chief of Maintenance … a few years later *he* was RIF’ed out of the Air Force. I wish I could’ve been at the gate to “salute” his butt on the way out of the gate for the last time. At the time, he was a missile launch officer and I was NCOIC of the Operating Room, and we were both at Grand Forks AFB, ND.

  13. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    I am in the Pharma business. We are told, over and over again, “do it the right way”, “follow the process”, “document”.

    From the very top, we are told “ There is -always- time to do things the – right- way”.

    We audit the crap out of ourselves. We pay outsiders to get up our stuff and find discrepancies. We have audits of our auditors.

    We keep firmly in mind that people -die- if we screw up. Those who can’t get that through their heads are gone in very short order.

    This is all established process, nothing new here in decades. Why the hell isnt this being done for aircraft parts? I have worked in other manufacturing. Quality control is a -well- understood science. But it requires a commitment to look beyond the quarterly money numbers, which sadly is sometimes lacking in the dark corners of industry.

    Thank us for our service by doing your f-ing job.

    And our folks? The “supervisors”? Do -your- f-ing job of watching these folks like hawks. Catch the cheaters and crucify them. Or go count messkits somewhere, but get -out- of anything important.

    The guy who says “good enough for government work” should be flogged out the door.