Airmen from the 179th Airlift Wing Maintenance Group, Mansfield, Ohio, conduct aircraft maintenance on the C-130H Hercules on May 15, 2019. Air National Guard photo by A1C Alexis Wade.
Air Mobility Command has inspected 107 of the 123 C-130s pulled from service earlier this month, discovering just one that had the “atypical cracks” on the wing joint that prompted the large-scale inspection process.
As of Aug. 16, 106 of the 107 inspected aircraft have returned to service, with the last one undergoing “appropriate measures” to address and repair the issue, AMC spokeswoman Rose Riley told Air Force Magazine in an email. There is no specific timeline for when the entire fleet will return to service, though the inspection process, which began less than two weeks ago, has moved quickly.
AMC announced Aug. 7 it was inspecting 123 total force C-130Hs and C-130Js of the 450-aircraft fleet after the cracks were discovered on the lower center wing joint, also known as a “rainbow fitting,” during depot maintenance.
“In-depth visual and modified non-destructive inspections of the wing box will be conducted on affected C-130H and C-130-H model aircraft that have not received the extended service life center wing box and have great than 15,000 equivalent flight hours,” AMC said in its announcement.
In addition to AMC inspections, other major commands, partner nations, and sister services were notified of the findings. Air Force Special Operations Command has been inspecting their C-130 variants and returning them to service.
The wing joint concerns follow the grounding of 60 C-130Hs earlier this year due to propeller cracking problems. All of those aircraft have been returned to service.