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A need for larger cargo transport

Aviation Updates Philippines – While the COVID-19 pandemic looms, nothing beats the Filipino spirit. Working hard 24/7, day and night, are our aviation frontliners who bravely support our health system in maintaining essential logistics in the Philippines.
ALL DAY OPS. Early in the morning, a Philippine Air Force C-130 aircraft landed at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport to deliver PPE sets to the city government. Photo from OCD XI.
Hauling essential cargo, especially medical supplies, are significant in winning our combat against the invisible enemy. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has taken the lead in doing this crucial task. From its C-130s to the smaller NC-212is, PAF has used all of its available assets capable of cargo transport.

On the other hand, the Department of Health (DOH) has tapped private companies to perform inter-island cargo operations across the country. The health department, which has lead the overall fight against COVID-19, recently recognized Lionair, Inc. for volunteering to ferry medical equipment.

During the early stages of the outbreak, the DOH relied mainly on transporting swab samples of suspected coronavirus patients on government-owned aircraft. However, as cases continue to rise, a need for a larger cargo transporter is crucial in alleviating COVID-19's impact.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reiterated the need for an aircraft "larger" than the PAF's C-130 fleet as the government procured a million personal protective equipment (PPE) from China. As of April 2, there were 985,000 sets of PPEs awaiting pick-up.

According to Duque, a single C-130 flight may only carry up to 15,000 sets. Without more cargo aircraft complementing the current PAF fleet, the air force would need to operate almost 70 C-130 flights from China to complete the delivery.

“The team is trying to arrange for a bigger plane to transport the PPE to health care workers faster. We are working with the aviation industry to see what can be done,” he told the Inquirer.

These past few days, the air force's fleet was bombarded with countless airlift missions in light of the pandemic. Aside from that, the PAF also used its assets to repatriate stranded foreign nationals in the Philippine soil.

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