South African C-130 aircraft crash lands in DRC, crew rescued

A South African C-130BZ Hercules airlift aircraft has crash landed in Goma airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier today. The aircraft was returning from a logistical mission in support of the South African contingent deployed to the DRC.

According to the acting spokesperson for the UN MONUSCO mission, Mathias Hillman, the C-130BZ was transporting 67 passengers including eight crew members when it suffered a mechanical malfunction that resulted in its left wing engine catching fire upon landing.

“MONUSCO sent a rescue team that brought the fire under control and everyone was safely evacuated,” Gillman disclosed to the media.

Images posted on social media shows an extensive damage to the left wing, as well as fire on the no.1 engine. The crashed C-130BZ carries the designation “Serial 403” and has recently made a return trip to Cuba at the end of December 2019.

A press statement has been released by the South African Department of Defence which confirmed the incident and that no live was lost. The statement also said that a board of inquiry will be convened to investigate the cause of the crash.

In 2014, the SAAF sent several aircraft, aircrew and ground crew on foreign deployments. Three Rooivalk attack helicopters from 16 Squadron SAAF and five or six 15, 17, 19, 22 Squadron Oryx transport helicopters and 28 Squadron C-130BZ were stationed in Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).

Since then, several 28 Squadron SAAF C-130BZ Hercules aircraft regularly flew to Sudan, DR Congo and Uganda, including Lubumbashi, Kinshasa, Goma, Beni, Bunia and Entebbe, as Entebbe is the logistic hub for MONUSCO in the eastern DR Congo. They mainly fly missions ranging from logistic support for SA National Defence Force continental peacekeeping and peace support operations, humanitarian operations, support to the South African Army, and general airlift.

So far, the SAAF currently have five remaining C-130BZ aircraft since it is unlikely if the damaged aircraft can still be repaired due to severe budget cuts. The C-130BZ are supported by three aging C-47 (DC-3) aircraft.

Patrick Kenyette

Freelance journalist and Photographer, and regular African Military Blog contributor