The crash of a Philippines Air Force Hercules C-130 on Sunday 4 July 2021 has resulted in the deaths of 50 people, the country’s worst military air disaster in three decades.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Cirilito Sobejana stated that the C-130 was transporting troops from Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, to the Province of Sulu when it overshot the runway and crashed into Patikul village.
AFP spokesperson Major General Edgdard Arevalo confirmed that 47 army personnel and three civilians were killed in the crash. The survivors – 49 military and four civilians – are being treated in hospitals.
In a televised statement translated by ONE News, Arevalo said that ‘all protocols were followed based on initial details. These include the approaching speed and landing spot’.
Black box and flight data retrieved by investigation team
Although everyone killed or injured has been accounted for, Arevalo confirmed that the AFP will continue to investigate what caused the plane to crash including gathering data from the C-130 black box and the control tower. Other elements pending investigation include weather factors and pilot error.
The Lockheed Martin C-130 was one of two aircraft recently granted by the US’ military financing program in February 2021, and had over 11,000 flying hours left before it was due for maintenance.
The AFP states that the C-130s are ‘the sturdiest in the inventory of the military service. These are used not just in military but also relief operations, including the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines’ but that the remaining three C-130s will be grounded, pending investigation results. Currently, the AFP has one other C-130 in the country, with the other two overseas for maintenance.
The accident is unfortunately reminiscent of the previous worst military air disaster in the Philippines in 1993, when a Philippines Air Force C-130 crashed, killing 30 people.
Despite its age, the Hercules C-130 has been a staple in military and relief operations. Recently, AirMed&Rescue outlined their use and retrofit in aerial firefighting.