Air Force Grounds Over 100 C-130 Hercules Cargo Planes Over Faulty Propeller Barrels That Could CRACKING
- The Air Force Mobility Command has confirmed it has grounded a large number of its C-130 Hercules cargo planes
- It examines how many have been affected by faulty propeller barrels that can burst and leak fluid, which are installed on 100 C-130Hs
- They were also installed on the full inventory of eight MC-130H Combat Talons, seven EC 130H Compass Calls and one TC-130H
- The groundings will affect Air Force reserves and the Air National Guard
- It is unclear how long it will take for the Air Force to repair the defective barrels
The United States Air Force has grounded more than 100 cargo planes over concerns that they had been built with faulty propeller barrels that could burst and leak fluid.
The Air Force Mobility Command confirmed that: Defense News that a large number of its C-130 Hercules cargo planes — of which there were 128 at the beginning of the fiscal year — are now unable to fly.
On Tuesday, 116 C-130 Hercules aircraft and even more of its variants were grounded as they investigate how many have been affected.
The propeller barrels in question were installed on 100 C-130Hs, as well as the full inventory of eight MC-130H Combat Talons, seven EC 130H Compass Calls and one TC-130H, according to the unofficial Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page.
Mobility Command has since confirmed that the groundings are “widespread” and will primarily affect operations of the Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard.
It remains unclear how long it will take for the Air Force to replace all affected propeller barrels.
The United States Air Force has grounded much of its C-130H cargo planes over fears they were built with faulty propeller barrels that could burst and leak fluid
More than 100 C-130H plans (as pictured here) are now unable to fly, impacting Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard operations
The announcement comes after a maintenance crew at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Georgia discovered a persistent leak from a C-130H propeller while testing the aircraft’s engine after it had undergone maintenance.
Authorities told Defense News that the propeller assembly was then removed and sent to a propeller shop, where a technician found a crack in the barrel assembly.
Further inspections revealed that two more propeller assemblies had the same problem, Mobility Command said, and it ordered an immediate inspection of all C-130 Hs with the older 54H6 model propellers and performed metallurgical assessments and stress analyses.
Mobility Command then issued a new order to replace the propellers immediately, although a timeline has not yet been established.
It said newer C-130Js and C-130Hs whose propeller assemblies have already been upgraded with the eight-blade NP 2000 system are not affected by the defect.
Air Force Mobility Command is now examining every aircraft and it remains unclear how long it will take to replace all propeller barrels
According to the unofficial air force amn/nco/snco Facebook, the propeller barrels in question have been installed on 100 C-130Hs, as well as the full inventory of eight MC-130H Combat Talons, seven EC 130H Compass Calls and one TC-130H. page
This is the second time in more than three years that the cargo planes have been grounded due to problems with the propeller system.
In February 2019, the Air Force grounded 60 C-130Hs — nearly a third of the fleet at the time — for several weeks over concerns that their pre-1971 propeller blades could burst.
That fear arose after a KC-130T crashed in 2017, killing 15 Marines and a sailor.
An investigation found that the crash was caused by a deteriorating propeller blade, which had already corroded when the plane entered an Air Force maintenance depot in 2011.
The corrosion eventually deteriorated into a crack, which had doomed the aircraft.
In the aftermath, the Air Force reviewed the propeller blade overhaul process as a senior review board met to review the crash investigation findings, according to the Air Force times.
It found that there were 23 cases where propeller blades showed some form of intergranular cracking, almost all of which were manufactured before 1971 — the year the Air Force switched to a different manufacturing process that resulted in more uniformly made, reliable propellers.
All those older propellers have since been replaced.