2019 Chilean Air Force C-130 crash

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2019 Chilean Air Force C-130 crash
USMC KC-130R Hercules 160628 VMGR-252 BH828 MCAS (21609322889).jpg
The C-130 Hercules involved, seen in 1996 operated by the USMC
Date9 December 2019 (2019-12-09)
SummaryCrashed; aircraft and human remains found
SiteDrake Passage
Aircraft typeC-130 Hercules
OperatorChilean Air Force
Flight originSantiago International Airport, Santiago, Chile
StopoverChabunco Air Force Base, Punta Arenas, Patagonia, Chile
DestinationTeniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin Air Base, Antarctica

On 9 December 2019, a Chilean Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft crashed in the Drake Passage while en route to Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva, a Chilean military base on King George Island in Antarctica.[1]

The crash site was located on 12 December 2019 after a three-day search, and no survivors were found.[2]


The aircraft was built in 1978 for the United States Air Force with tail number 77-0324 and serial number 382-4776, but was delivered to the United States Marine Corps as a KC-130R tanker for aerial refueling operations and assigned BuNo 160628. It operated in Cherry Point, North Carolina (VMGR-252) and in Iwakuni, Japan (VMGR-152).[3][4]

The aircraft was placed in storage at AMARG from 2009 until 2014. After being purchased by the Chilean Air Force for US$7 million, it was refurbished at Hill AFB, Utah, to C-130H standards and delivered in 2015 under the new tail number 990.[5][6]


The aircraft departed Punta Arenas, Patagonia, Chile, at 19:55 UTC (16:55 local time) bound for King George Island, Antarctica.[1] The flight was intended to provide supplies to a base in Chilean Antarctic Territory and to bring personnel to inspect a floating fuel supply line and other equipment at the base. The Chilean Air Force flies from Punta Arenas to King George Island monthly.[7][8] Radio contact with the plane was lost at 21:13 UTC.[1][9][10]


Argentina sea search

A search was conducted by aircraft from the Chilean Air Force, Argentina, Brazil, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay. Also, two Chilean Navy frigates searched the area where the aircraft was last observed by radar. They were aided by a team of satellite imagery analysts from the Israeli Defense Forces' Unit 9900.[11][12] The search effort was hampered by rough seas and poor visibility.[13]

Crash site[edit]

One day into the search, debris from an aircraft was found floating in the sea 31 kilometres (19 mi) from the last known position of the missing aircraft. Debris and personal items were recovered by Brazilian Navy polar research ship Almirante Maximiano.[14]

The crash site was located off the coast of South America on 12 December, 27 kilometres (17 mi) from the C-130's last known position. The aircraft fuselage and main components were identified along with human remains.[2] Chilean Air Force chief Arturo Merino confirmed that everyone on board was killed.[14]

Passengers and crew[edit]

The aircraft had 38 people on board, 21 passengers and 17 crew. Fifteen passengers were Chilean Air Force servicemen, three were Chilean soldiers, two were civilians employed by the Inproser engineering and construction firm, and one was a student at University of Magallanes.[15] The crew was composed entirely of Chilean air force personnel.[1][16]


An accident investigation is being conducted by the Chilean Air Force. As of December 2019, the cause of the crash is unknown, due in part to an insufficient quantity of recovered components. The aircraft experienced a complete break-up, either in-flight, or after crashing into the sea.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Antarctica-bound plane missing with 38 on board". BBC News. BBC. 10 December 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Chile air force plane found off tip of South America along with human remains". CBS News. 12 December 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  3. ^ Baugher, Joe (9 December 2019). "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos, Third Series (160007 to 163049)". joebaugher.com. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Historial del KC-130R de la Fuerza Aérea de Chile accidentado -noticia defensa.com - Noticias Defensa defensa.com Chile". Defensa.com (in Spanish). 12 December 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Airframe Details for C-130 #4776". www.c-130.net. Retrieved 15 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Arancibia, J. C. (7 February 2015). "Chile's Defense & Military: Air Force Acquires 2 Surplus C-130 Planes from U.S." Chile's Defense & Military. Retrieved 15 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Luna, Patricia; Cuevas, Mauricio (10 December 2019). "Chile combs Antarctic for missing plane with 38 aboard". AP News. Associated Press. Retrieved 11 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Bull, Millie (10 December 2019). "Chile missing aeroplane: Antartica-bound plane with 38 passengers disappears". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  9. ^ "Chilean air force says missing plane with 38 onboard has crashed". The Guardian. 10 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Lockheed C-130H Hercules 990 King George Island". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  11. ^ Bachner, Michael (15 December 2019). "Israeli military helped find remains of crashed Chilean plane near Antarctica". Times of Israel.
  12. ^ "עם עיניים ישראליות: כך אותרו שרידי המטוס ליד אנטרקטיקה" (in Hebrew). ynet. 14 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Adverse conditions hamper search for Chile plane". BBC News. 11 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ a b "Chile missing plane: No survivors, confirms air force chief". BBC News. 12 December 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "No survivors in Chilean plane crash". 12 December 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  16. ^ Yeung, Jessie. "Chilean Air Force plane presumed crashed on its way to Antarctica". CNN. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  17. ^ Reuters (22 December 2019). "Chilean air force chief says cause of Antarctic plane crash may never be known". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 December 2019.