Looking After ‘The Old Man’

Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, the PAF’s chief of the air staff, sits with principal staff officers and personnel of the 130th AED in front of ‘The Old Man’ at Nur Khan airbase. (Alan Warnes)

C-130 Group Photo

The Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) 130th Air Engineering Depot (AED) has recently completed the 50th Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) of a Lockheed Martin C-130B turboprop freighter.

A ceremony was held on 15th March to celebrate the work carried out on the aircraft at Nur Khan airbase in the east of Pakistan, where the facility is based. The aptly titled 130th AED is tasked with the maintenance of the PAF’s fleet of 16 C-130 family aircraft, made up of five C-130Bs, ten C-130Es and a sole L-100 built initially for the civil market. Generally, it works on six aircraft per year.

Until 1993, the unit worked on the C-130s on an IRAN (Inspect and Repair as Necessary) basis, but it meant the C-130 fleet was sent all over the world for maintenance. To this end, the aircraft travelled to Indonesia (PTDI), Singapore (ST Aerospace), Portugal (OGMA), Brazil (Embraer) or wherever a dock became available. However this approach was expensive, costing up to $5 million per aircraft. Moreover, flying it to another country took time and personnel were away for long periods. With C-130 PDM being performed locally, such challenges are no more. Similar work has also been performed for third part C-130 operators such as two Sri Lankan Air Force C-130Ks.

When the aircraft arrive all secondary parts are subsequently removed and despatched to the various shops for checks. Aircraft components are distributed amongst the various facilities of the Engineering Wing, which includes the airframe accessory, electrical and instrument, avionics and engine shops.

The 50th aircraft to go through a PDM, the C-130B mentioned above, was built in 1958 and is not too surprisingly known among PAF C-130 personnel as ‘The Old Man’. It is one of the oldest airworthy C-130 family aircraft in the world.