Gabon is considering whether to bring an elderly B-model variant of the Lockheed Martin C-130 back to flyable condition, in order to double the size of its air force’s transport fleet.
The 1976-built aircraft (TR-KKB) is currently at the Alverca facility of Portuguese maintenance and overhaul specialist OGMA, following its recovery from the African state.It had not flown for about eight years and needed to be transported by road and ship, arriving in Portugal on 24 December 2015. It has since been subjected to an in-depth inspection and disassembled, including the removal it its wings and tail.
OGMA has now supplied an upgrade proposal to the government in Libreville, and expects a go-ahead decision in September, says director of maintenance Jorge Palma.
Work will include the installation of new avionics and a glass cockpit, as well as the replacement of several structural parts, including outer wing-caps and the 6m (19.7ft)-long sloping longerons at the rear of the aircraft.These need to be replaced one at a time, says Palma, “otherwise the aircraft would just fall apart”.
The company expects the modifications to take about 12 months to complete, including the manufacture of new components. “It is a big effort,” notes Palma.
A sister C-130H (TC-KKC) has recently completed a C-check in Portugal, and is due to return to Gabon shortly.
The B-model aircraft is not the oldest Hercules that OGMA has worked on: in 2010 it performed a structural and avionics upgrade of a C-130A for the Central African Republic, says Palma.