Hard Landing of Turkey’s Vintage Transall C-160
On the 25th of January 2024, videos taken in the city of Kayseri showed a Turkish Air Force C-160 Transall aircraft flying dangerously low towards Kayseri Erkilet Airport in Turkey.
Ekibin eline sağlık, şehir içerisinde bir kazaya sebebiyet vermemişler. pic.twitter.com/JfOvk5HbsF
— TangoTangoLima (@Ttltlg) January 25, 2024
Kayseri Erkilet Airport is both a military air base and a public airport in the centre of Turkey. The airport has only one runway, and I couldn’t find any information as to how they share operations, but this incident was definitely on the military side of things.
The C-160 Transall was produced by Transport Allianz. Transport Allianz was a joint venture between France and Germany, formed in the late 1950s to design a modern transport aircraft to replace the Nord Noratlas. The C-160 was the result, despite repeated attempts by Lockheed to sell the C-130 Hercules to Germany. Over the production period from 1965 to 1985, 214 aircraft were produced. Over 2,000 modifications and upgrades were incorporated to the C-160 to extend its lifespan, including new features such as GPS, modern autopilots, kevlar armour and TCAS collision warning systems.
Over time, the German and French C-160s were replaced with Airbus A400Ms. Germany officially retired the fleet in 2021 and France in 2022, marking the end of an era. (The other major user, South Africa, retired their fleet in 1997).
The Turkish Air Force acquired twenty aircraft from Germany in 1971, which were then upgraded to a specific model for the Turkish Air Force, the C-160T. This fleet was based at Kayseri and flown by the 221 Squadron of the 12th Wing.
As of 2023, the Turkish Air Force was the only operator of the C-160 Transall, with only two C-160Ts remaining in service.
The C-160T registered as 69-036 was departing Kayseri Erkilet Air Base when the aircraft suffered a technical fault which has not yet been disclosed. The flight crew turned back for an emergency landing at the airport.
Today, crew of the last airworthy C-160D Transall transport aircraft of #Turkish Air Force encountered a technical failure after take off from Kayseri AB. They quickly returned to perform emergency landing. This is the world's last C-160 still in military use. It is used as… pic.twitter.com/f6S9i9EEwc
— Babak Taghvaee – The Crisis Watch (@BabakTaghvaee1) January 25, 2024
As the aircraft passes over head, you can see that the landing gear is not extended. Redditor Lanarsis points out that if you look at the props right at that moment, there’s quite a neat shot of the wind vortices.
The video clearly shows the flight crew attempting to keep the C-160T in the air for as long as possible. Shortly beyond the view of the video, the aircraft made it to the runway but then veered off after touchdown, coming to a halt on rough ground. The crew were able to escape the stricken aircraft without injury.
Although the Ministry of Defense initially reported that the aircraft had taken only minor damage, it has since been reported that the C-160T is beyond economic repair.
That leaves one Transall C-160T still flying, registered as 68-040.
Apparently, the Turkish Air Force have a second C-160T, registered as 68-023, which has been in storage for some years. It is not clear whether this second aircraft can be made airworthy. If not, the final C-160T may be retired as no reserve aircraft exists.
This is slightly off-subject and let me start by saying that I don’t consider myself anti-AI or particularly worried that AI is going to ruin aviation for me. However, I do think that public media companies that use AI-imagery for their editorial articles should be called out and shamed for being embarrassing.
For the avoidance of doubt, let’s take a look at this line drawing of a C-160 as shown on the Air Cavalry website.
Now take a look at this atrocity which appeared on a detailed news article about the crash.
This isn’t the journalist’s fault; I feel sure that the person who wrote the article also looked at the accompanying social media images that showed a twin-engine aircraft with a normal-sized cockpit and a sensible number of windows in a single row at the front.
However, whoever approved this photograph clearly has no idea and worse, couldn’t even be bothered to look at the actual photographs included in the same article.
Even ignoring the fact that it looks like the grotesque love child of an Airbus A400M and a C-160 which has swallowed a blimp, the very idea that an editor would use a fantastical image generator to accompany a news story just defies belief.
It’s disheartening enough that we’ve lost one of the last of these historic aircraft without having to put up with this nonsense. I wish I could sue for emotional distress.