An aircrew with the Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Airlift Wing at Peoria operates a C-130 Hercules at Young Air Assault Strip in July 2017. File Photo by Scott T. Sturkol/Fort McCoy/U.S. Army
Aug. 23 (UPI) -- All but one of the Total Force C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft of the U.S. Air Force grounded earlier this month to address cracks in wing joints have been cleared for duty.
The 112 aircraft, of 450 total in the fleet, returned to worldwide service after they were grounded on Aug. 7 to examine what Air Force Materiel Command called "atypical cracks" in their lower center wing joints, known as "rainbow fittings." The fittings hold the inner and outer wing sections together.
The eight-hour inspection of the C-130H and C-130J planes, cleared thus far, took two weeks.
There are still ten more C-130s to be inspected, the Air Force said, however they were in depot at the time of the groundings and will be inspected during their regularly scheduled depot inspections and maintenance.
"The safety of our Airmen is our highest priority," Gen. Maryanne Miller, AMC commander, said in a press release. "We sought to address this issue with crew safety first and foremost in mind, and we're working across the Total Force, our sister services and our industry partners to ensure all affected personnel and equipment are safeguarded."
Only one plane was found to have a rainbow fitting crack, said Col. Jed McCray of AMC.
The Air Force said on Thursday that the temporary removal of the planes from service has not impacted ongoing C-130 support to overseas operations. Variations of the propeller-driven plane have been in service since their introduction in 1956.