NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — A Navy C-26D aircraft made a 2,241 mile, eight-stop, eight-day, eight-country trek. The aircraft flew from Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples, Italy to a repair depot in New Braunfels, Texas landing on May 16.
While not an epic trek across time and space, the flight of the C-26 Metroliner was an example of Tactical Airlift Program Office (PMA-207) Fixed Wing/Operational Support Aircraft (VR/OSA) utility lift team’s dedication to serving the fleet.
In November 2021, a Navy C-26D aircraft, stationed at NSA Naples, damaged its landing gear, fuselage landing gear points, and fuel tank during an unfortunate hard landing.
The Utility Lift team, using lessons learned from a previous hard landing in October 2020, was determined to find a faster route for this aircraft’s repair. The team responded quickly, assessed the damage, and sent depot artisans to the site to conduct structural repairs and seal the fuel tanks. It was then determined that complete repair would best be accomplished at a depot facility.
Unable to find an available C-26 depot in Europe in the timeframe needed, the utility lift team determined the action that best served the fleet was to fly the Metroliner to a repair facility at Alpha Air Services of America in New Braunfels.
“The damage from the second hard landing was not as bad as the first and it was possible to get this aircraft airworthy for a flight to Texas,” said Dave Adams, PMA-207 utility lift integrated product team lead. “Repair at a depot is quicker and less expensive than doing repairs on site.”
Due to flight limitations on the low-wing, twin-engine turboprop monoplane, the team could not fly directly across the Atlantic Ocean. Pilots, Lt. Daniel Sanchez and Lt. Alec McGaffic, plotted a safe route that took the aircraft through Ramstein, Germany; Stornoway, Scotland; and Keflavik, Iceland; where it encountered a snow-storm, before continuing to Narsarsuaq, Greenland; Goose Bay, Canada; Burlington, Vermont; and Louisville, Kentucky, before safely landing in New Braunfels, Texas.
“We just had to wait until the weather was accommodating before the flights could proceed. It took a bit to get the aircraft ready but I’m glad it all worked out and the aircraft and crew have safely reached their destination,” said Adams.
The aircraft will undergo final structural repairs at the Texas facility and is expected to return to Naples in two to three months.
The C-26D is a military utility transport version of the Fairchild Metroliner 23 commercial light-lift aircraft. C-26D aircraft provide rapid-response transports for high-priority resupply and movement of key personnel to remote, un-serviced or feeder sites. The Navy operates four C-26D aircraft stationed at NSA Naples and Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy.