We Shouldn’t Be Surprised About the C-130 Crash

A C-130 cargo plane operated by the Puerto Rico Air National Guard went down near Savannah, GA during a training mission today. The crash happened about three miles east of Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Five were on board. No survivors were expected. [UPDATE: It is now confirmed that at least five were killed in the crash.]

Investigators will now try to determine what exactly went wrong in this case. But here’s what we already know: These kinds of military accidents have gotten much too common lately as an overtaxed military is tasked with maintaining a remarkably old fleet of planes.

We dug into this issue last month after the latest in a rash of military accidents. Such accidents are up 40 percent since 2013, which just so happens to be when the budget-cutting Sequestration went into effect. As PM said then:

Cutting procurement results in older, more difficult to maintain aircraft staying in service longer. Cutting maintenance makes aircraft more likely to be unavailable for flight operations and increases the chance an undiagnosed issue will cause problems. Cutting on training leaves aircraft and ship crews less effective at their jobs, especially during unexpected situations.

Whether you’re talking about a cargo plane like the C-130, a bomber like the B-52, an attack plane like the A-10, or a fighter like the F/A-18, the U.S. military is keeping it planes flying for decades upon decades, much longer than their origin planned lifetimes, to the point that there’s now a go-to joke about airmen working on the very same planes their grandfathers serviced. The badass, reliable C-130 has been flying in some form since the 1950s.

We’ll keep you posted as investigators try to determine the mechanical cause for this C-130 crash. But the apparent root cause isn’t going away.

Flames and smoke rise from an Air National Guard C-130 cargo plane after it crashed near Savannah, Ga., Wednesday, May 2, 2018.

A total of nine people were on board. The AP describes the crash as such:

The huge plane’s fuselage appeared to have struck the median, and pieces of its 132-foot wingspan were scattered across lanes in both directions. The only part still intact was the tail section, said Chris Hanks, a spokesman for the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association. “It miraculously did not hit any cars, any homes,” Effingham County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Gena Bilbo said. “This is a very busy roadway.”