The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has grounded its fleet of Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” medium transport aircraft after a fatal crash on 4 July in the southern Philippine province of Sulu. The PAF also denied rumors that the C-130H “Hercules” cargo plane that crashed in Patikul was overloaded. It was well within the operational limits and capacity when it left Laguindingan Airport with 96 passengers compared to its maximum capacity of 120 passengers; this is contrary to the circulating rumor that the aircraft was overloaded.
The crime operation (SOCO) team is helping identify the bodies of the 12 fallen PAF personnel who were among the 96 passengers of the flight. The team is composed of personnel of various specialization(s), like pilots, maintenance, medical, and other technical fields. The search-and-recovery teams recovered the flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) of the ill-fated C-130 to determine the cause of the accident. The PAF has grounded its C-130 fleet pending the result of the investigation.
The Philippine Air Force 222nd Airlift Squadron, which is under the command of the 220th Airlift Wing, currently fields four C-130s – two C-130Ts, one C-130B, and one C-130H – all of which operate from Cebu. The C-130B is expected to be retired in the near future. The 222nd Airlift Squadron will acquire two more Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” cargo aircraft to add to its existing fleet of five used to transport medical supplies and personnel tasked to contain the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
A Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” medium transport aircraft can lift about 100 troops or its equivalent weight, a critical asset in transporting immediate relief after disasters even to remote airfields. The entire AFP, the Philippine National Police, and government agencies, especially the Department of Social Welfare and Development, rely on the Air Force in moving people and logistics to different parts of the archipelago. The first was turned over in April 2016. The PAF now has a total of 7 Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” airlift aircraft.