Tuesday, February 26, 2013

F-35 Grounded Again!

All 51of the mistake made F-35 A/C all models A,B, and C are grounded after a borescope inspection at Edwards AFB base on Friday made the discovery of cracked engine blades in the low pressure turbine. This is a potentially huge development for the Pratt and Whitney engine because of the location of the LPT down stream from the fan and the combuster it was not FOD that caused it but some kind of mechanical failure due to the high heat and stress environment.

Like I have said many times this program needs to be canceled now  before the DOD blows all of our TACAIR budget on a plane that simply does not and cannot deliver on the promise made 20 years ago. This program demonstrates that corporate welfare and Pentagon mismanagement is alive and well.

History of previous F-35 groundings

May 2007: The first incident was recorded in May 2007, when the F-35A prototype AA-1 experienced an electrical short that disabled flight controls on the horizontal stabliser. A grounding was ordered and continued until December 2007, due to time needed to redesign several parts of the 270-volt electrical system and F-135 engine problems.

July 2008: On July 23, 2008, both flying F-35 prototypes were grounded after problems were detected with ground cooling fan electrical circuitry, DCMA reported on Aug 18, 2008 that tests were delayed as a result of testing anomalies on the 28 Volt and 270 Volt Battery Charger/Controller Unit, the Electrical Distribution Unit and the Power Distribution Unit. It was due to design problems. Flights were resumed first week of September-2008.

December 2008: On Dec 12, 2008 the F-35 was grounded again as a result of engine and ejection seat anomalies. Seat anomalies were observed in ejection seat sequence during an escape system test on Nov. 20, 2008. It took nearly 3 months to solve the problems and aircraft AA-1 did not return to the skies until Feb. 24, 2009.

May 2009: The F-35 fleet didn’t fly between May 7, 2009 (84th flight of prototype AA-1) and Jun 23, 2009. No comments were available from JPO or L-M.

October 2010: F-35 fleet grounded after the fuel pump shut down above 10,000ft (3,050m). The problem was caused by a software bug.

March 2011: The entire F-35 fleet was grounded some weeks after test aircraft AF-4 experienced a dual generator failure. After both generators shut down in flight, the IPP activated and allowed the F-35’s flight control system to continue functioning. The problem was traced to faulty maintenance handling.

June 2011: Carrier-based F-35C suspended from flying after engineers at NAS Patuxent River discovered a software problem that could have affected the flight control surfaces. Grounding was from 17 June until 23 June, 2011.

August 2011: A precautionary grounding of all 20 F-35s that had reached flying status was ordered Aug. 3, 2011 after a valve in the Integrated Power Package (IPP) of F-35A test aircraft AF-4 failed. On 18 August 2011 the flight ban was lifted to allow monitored operations. A permanent resolution would be installed later.
January 2012: 15 Lockheed Martin F-35s are grounded for about 12 days to repack improperly installed parachutes (reversed 180 degrees from design). The grounded aircraft are equipped with new versions of the Martin Baker US16E ejection seat, designated as -21 and -23.

January 2013: The F-35B STOVL variant was grounded Jan 18, 2013 after detection of a failure of a fueldraulic line in the aircraft's propulsion system. The Pentagon cleared all 25 F-35B aircraft to resume flight tests on February 12, 2013. Problem caused by a manufacturing quality problem (wrongly crimped fuel line).
February 2013: On Feb. 21, 2013, the Pentagon ordered a grounding for all F-35 aircraft, after a routine check at the Edwards Air Force Base revealed a crack in a low pressure turbine blade in an engines of a F-35A.

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