Air Mobility Command has returned 74 C-130s to service as of Aug. 9, AMC spokeswoman Alexandra Soika said on Monday. Just one of those grounded C-130s has been found to have a defect so far, she said.
Soika said it is unclear how long the remaining 48 C-130s might take to be inspected, since the pace depends on each base’s capacity. The inspections take about eight hours.
“We are making tremendous progress,” Soika said.
The Air Force temporarily grounded the aircraft after finding cracks in the lower center wing joint, or “rainbow fitting," of a C-130 during scheduled depot maintenance. The affected aircraft represented nearly a quarter of the 450 C-130H and C-130J aircraft in the fleet.
AMC said that even though only one C-130 was originally found to have cracks, the potential risk of a wing becoming dislodged from the aircraft was so serious that the Air Force decided to inspect all planes that could be affected. Each of those 123 C-130s that were grounded have flown more than 15,000 hours, and have not received an “extended service life center wing box.”
Repairing cracked rainbow fittings will take about one to two months to finish, depending on how busy a depot is, AMC said.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.