Category Archives: Airlift

Indonesia eyes five Airbus A400M transporters

Indonesia is set to buy five Airbus A400M military airlift aircraft, worth 2 billion USD, according to reports on Thursday 19 January. If indeed true, that’s great news for Airbus and its somewhat troubled A400M program. 

Indonesia was already known to eye the A400M as a replacement and add on for C-130 Hercules aircraft. Indonesia in recent years purchased additional C-130s from Australia, one of which unfortunately was lost in crash in 2016.

The A400M is in service in six countries, being France, the UK, Germany, Turkey and Malaysia. Additionaly, Belgium and Luxembourg have ordered the type.

An order would be a very welcome boost for the A400M program, that suffered a fatal crash almost two years ago, plus some bad press in the German press in particular.

Maiden flight for first Spanish A400M

The first Airbus A400M airlifter for the Spanish Air Force made its maiden flight on Monday, marking a key milestone towards its delivery. The aircraft, known as MSN44, took off from Seville, Spain where the A400M Final Assembly Line is located at 15:25 local time on 5 September and landed back on site 3 hours and 45 minutes later.

Test-Pilot Nacho Lombo, who captained the flight, said after landing: “As always, the aircraft was a pleasure to fly. I am confident that its unique combination of strategic and tactical capabilities will have a transformational effect on the Spanish Air Force’s air mobility operations as it has done in other countries already.”

The aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in the coming weeks.

Featured image: The first Spanish A400M in the air. (Image © Airbus Defense)

True British RAF Transporter turned 35

The only true British military transport aircraft type in Royal Air Force service has turned 35 years old. On 3 September 1981 the BAe 146 took first to the skies, as a regional airliner, at Hatfield in Hertfordshire. Many years later the four RAF machines are part of the surviving active fleet of 220 BAe 146s worldwide.

Serving with No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron at RAF Nordholt two BAe 146 CCMk2s are there to transport members of the Royal Family and other senior government or military hotshots. A pair of grey painted BAe 146 CMk3s – based on the civilian QC variant – provide tactical air transport in both the passenger and palletised freight role.

Succesful jetliner

RAF’s quartet are part of a successful British regional jetliner production when looking at the numbers. A total of 394 BAe 146s – and its successor the Avro RJ – were built until production ceased after 22 years of operations in November 2003 in Woodford, Ceshire. Together the type has made more than 12 million hours of flight.

Civilian role

In a civilian role the BAe 146s often provide freight services, for example with Virgin Australia. In parts of Europe the type is commonly deployed as city hopper, for example between Stockholm-Bromma and Brussels IAP.


In the aerial firefighting role three operators in North America will use the machine as a 3000 gallon fire extinguisher and are replacing older piston and turboprop aircraft.

Coming decades

With many of the aircraft having made 20,000 to 35,000 take-offs and landings, most of the BAe 146s are still very much able to double or almost triple that number the coming decades.

© 2016 senior contributor Marcel Burger
Featuring image: Historic image of a RAF Royal Flight BAe 146 CC2 landing at Zürich-Kloten on 23 January 2008 (Image © Juergen Lehle (

Fatalities in C-130 crash Portugal

A Portuguese Air Force C-130 crashed on Monday 11 July in Portugal, multiple sources reported just after midday. The same sources say at least three people died in the accident.

The aircraft came down near Montijo airbase near Lisbon. The Hercules carried seven persons in total. Montijo was the aircraft’s home airfield.

No information is known about the possible cause yet. The C-130 was part of the six-strong fleet of the Portuguese Air Force.

Featured image: A Portuguese C-130 Hercules. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

First “new” Philippine C-130T finally made it

Later than we – and some say even the Philippine Air Force expected – the first of two “new” Lockheed C-130T Hercules aircraft joined the Asian country’s military this week.

The aircraft landed at almost midnight on 5 April 2016 on Brig. Gen. Benito N. Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City at Cebu. A full Philippine Air Force 12 persons strong crew manned the aircraft during the four day journey from Tuscon, Arizona (USA), where the plane left on 2 April. The airlifter was actually expected roughly a month earlier, but what caused the delay is not known.

Travelling along legs

Herc 5011 was travelling along legs typical for so many other flights that were flown without in-flight refuel in the past: first a short hop to one of the airbases in California (to test the systems), then to Hickam AFB/Honolulu IAP on Oahu (Hawaii), followed by Wake Island and Guam before entering Philippine airspace.

220th Airlift Wing

At BGNEAB – as the home of the 220th Airlift Wing is called in short – the Hercules gets additional interior fittings before becoming fully operational. The wing already flies older B and H models, as well as the Airbus C295 recently acquired by Manilla.

Pasay City

The offical public blessing of the former US Marine Corps KC-130 as C-130T is planned for 12 April at Colonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

© 2016 editor Marcel Burger, based largely on PAF press release
Featured image: The first of two C-130Ts arriving in the Philippines on 5 April 2016 (Image © Philippine Air Force)