Narrative:Hercules N130HP was hired to fight a 10,000-acre wildland blaze near Walker, CA. After dumping a red cloud of fire retardant, both wings separated in an upward motion. The right wing immediately separated from the fuselage at low altitude. The plane then lost control and rolled left. During this manoeuvre the left wing fell from the aircraft as well and the aircraft nosedived into the ground. The whole event just took about 4 seconds and was captured on video a passer-by. In April 1998 two one-inch cracks were found on the bottom of a wing (the service difficulty report does not state which wing), at Outer Wing Station 33, which is 33 inch (83cm) from the wing joint. These cracks were repaired.
The investigations into the June 17, 2002 C-130A and July 18 PB-4Y crashes are closely looking at the fatigue cracks as well as other safety issues, such as inspection and maintenance procedures and operational factors. Preliminary results for both have indicated that widespread fatigue was not evident over the entire wing but that in some locations current crack detection techniques may have been unreliable.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "The inflight failure of the right wing due to fatigue cracking in the center wing lower skin and underlying structural members. A factor contributing to the accident was inadequate maintenance procedures to detect fatigue cracking."
Follow-up / safety actions
Following the June 17 C-130A and July 18 PB4Y-2 Privateer airtanker accidents the Blue Ribbon Panel on Aerial Firefighting was commissioned by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The panel was chartered to identify key information for planning the safe and effective future of aerial firefighting.
The report was released December 6, 2002 and revealed eight findings. As a result the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management decided no longer to contract for the C-130A or PB4Y aircraft as airtankers and the Forest Service suspended fire missions of 19 P-58 Barons and 4 Shorts 330 aircraft pending evaluations of the issues identified in the Blue Ribbon panel’s report.
On September 26, 2002 the Federal Aviation Administration ordered wing inspections on all C-130A air tankers after NTSB investigators determined that cracks in the wings caused the C-130A crash. (AD-2002-19-14)
The NTSB's investigation of three air tanker accidents determined that the maintenance and inspection programs applicable to firefighting aircraft did not adequately account for the increased safety risks that the aircraft are exposed to as a result of the advanced age and the severe stresses of the firefighting environment. As a result the NTSB recommended that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior develop maintenance and inspection programs for firefighting aircraft that include consideration of the airplane's original design, age, and operational stresses, as well as engineering evaluations to predict and prevent fatigue cracking. The Board also recommended that the Department of
Agriculture and Department of Interior hire personnel with aviation engineering and maintenance expertise to oversee the new maintenance programs. The NTSB recommended that the FAA require that these aircraft be maintained in accordance with such programs and that the FAA assume responsibility for collecting continuing airworthiness information about surplus military aircraft.
In a separate letter sent to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior the Safety Board emphasized their position regarding the installation of video recorders on public use aircraft and.
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not
display the exact flight path.
Distance from Minden-Tahoe Airport, NV to Minden-Tahoe Airport, NV as the crow flies is NAN km (NAN miles).