Officials and rescue personnel work at the scene where an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules crashed into a residential area in Medan on June 30, 2015. An Indonesian military transport plane crashed on June 30 shortly after take-off in a city on Sumatra island, exploding in a ball of flames in a residential area. AFP PHOTO / Kharisma TARIGAN

Officials and rescue personnel work at the scene where an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules crashed into a residential area in Medan on June 30, 2015. An Indonesian military transport plane crashed on June 30 shortly after take-off in a city on Sumatra island, exploding in a ball of flames in a residential area. AFP PHOTO / Kharisma TARIGAN

The Indonesian Air Force Lockheed C-130B aircraft that crashed into a neighborhood on Tuesday June 30th 2015 and was carrying near maximum payload had been built in 1951. While no one from amongst the 122 passengers nor 12 crew members survived the air disaster, another 7 people on the ground had also reportedly been killed. The Lockheed C-130B carried the registration number A-1310 with construction number 3616 and had just taken off from Soewondo Air Force Base bound for a set of remote Indonesian islands at a 7 hours flight distance. The aircraft did not stay airborne more than 2 minutes following its take-off. Onlookers observed that one of the aircraft propeller was not rotating properly when the airplane started veering to its right, plunging towards a neighborhood in the town of Medan.

The Indonesia Air Force had operated anywhere between 16 and 24 C-130 types of aircraft from the early 1960’s onwards. The aircraft that crashed on Tuesday was a early variant -B model operated by 32 Squadron. Already in 2009 another C-130 had crashed killing more than 100. With a nation consisting of thousands of islands spanning 3 time zones, the C-130 seems to have been a perfect fit for supplying remote bases while also ferrying civilians. The later case would explain the high number of passengers on board that aircraft.

In the previous decades numerous embargoes on military equipment imposed by the US (on account of Indonesia human rights abuse in East Timor and other places) did impact the readiness of the already aging fleet of C-130B and C-130H all Vietnam era airframes. By 2009 various contracts had been authorized by the US aiming at re-conditioning particularly the C-130B fleet consisting of 5 aircraft.

While the large number of passengers on board the aircraft (135) indicates the aircraft may have been operating beyond its maximum payload limit. In such case the unavailability of one of four engines would most likely prevent the aircraft from remaining air borne. Most C-130 versions would accept a maximum of 92 troops or 64 paratroopers with their gears but special scenario envision a maximum load not to exceed 124.  The investigation is ongoing.

 

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