Flight operations at the Santa Barbara Airport resumed late Monday afternoon after investigators completed their examination of the wreckage of a private C-130 aircraft that made a crash landing at the airfield late Sunday night.
The main runway reopened at 4:46 p.m., 19 hours after Sunday night’s crash forced a shut down of all flight operations, said Deanna Zachrisson, an airport spokeswoman.
The airport’s two shorter runways — 15 Left and 15 Right — will remain closed until the damaged plane is removed. They are used primarily by general aviation aircraft.
The crash occurred at about 10:20 p.m. Sunday on the airport’s main runway — known as Runway 7 when approached from the west and Runway 25 from the east.
The 4-engine plane, which reportedly had lost one engine and its hydraulics, caught on fire after hitting the ground, and part of a wing broke off.
Seven people on board the plane escaped without injury.
Shortly before landing, the crew radioed the control tower, saying, “Looks like we’re not going to have any flaps…so we’ll be a little fast and we’ll be using the full length (of the runway).”
The aircraft is an aerial oil-spill dispersant plane owned by International Air Response, which is based in Mesa, Arizona, a company spokeswoman confirmed Monday.
The plane had flown from Hilo, Hawaii, on Sunday, arriving at Santa Maria shortly after 9 p.m., according to FlightAware. It reportedly was on its way to Mesa at the time of the crash.
Company officials were not available for comment, and a spokeswoman said a statement would be released later.
Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration arrived on scene mid-morning Monday, Zachrisson said, and took several hours to do their work.
She added that airport officials were still evaluating whether to move the damaged aircraft right away or wait until later, which could affect the timing of resuming air traffic.
Complicating the decision is the fact that the plane still has fuel on board.
“We have to decide whether it’s best to defuel it in place or move it first,” Zachrisson said.
During the crash landing, the aircraft spun around, damaging lighting and signage along the runway and taxiways in the process.
Those items had to be repaired before flight operations could be restarted, Zachrisson said.
She added that there did not appear to be any damage to the runway itself.
There were 24 commercial flights scheduled to depart Monday prior to 4 p.m., and 19 scheduled to arrive, all of which were canceled.
Websites for the various airlines serving Santa Barbara indicated that most of the remainder of Monday’s flights had been canceled as well, and passengers were being urged to contact their airlines for information on flight status and rescheduling.
Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.