The C-130BZ Hercules transport aircraft of the South African Air Force (SAAF) that crash-landed at Goma airport in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in January remains on the edge of the runway nearly three months after the incident.
The 56-year-old, four-engine aircraft (403) from Air Force Base Waterkloof’s 28 Squadron, crash-landed on 9 January this year when transporting 59 passengers and eight crew members from the eastern town of Beni.
Wet conditions on the day are said to have caused the aircraft to veer off the runway, damaging its undercarriage, wing and one of its Allison engines which caught fire at some point during the runway excursion. When the wingtip hit a dirt wall, it is thought to have burst a fuel tank, which may have contributed to the engine fire.
It was previously reported that the aircraft had been moved to a hanger housing SAAF personnel and aircraft at Goma airport. However, on 4 March the aircraft was seen remaining on the fringe of the runway with an excavator and dump truck operating in front of the aircraft, indicating efforts may be underway to move it.
The future of the C-130BZ Hercules aircraft remains unclear as SANDF personnel at Goma airport were unable to comment on the status of the aircraft.
The SAAF is currently flying C-130BZ 405 to the DRC. There are four other operational C-130BZs in service (401, 402, 406 and 409).
The January runway excursion was the first serious accident/incident involving the South African Air Force’s C-130BZs in over fifty years of operations.