Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Audit slams F-35 engine

A federal report has slammed the reliability of Pratt and Whitney's F-35 engine as being "very poor," less than half of where it should be according to the Government Accountability Office. Federal auditors warned lawmakers that the engine "has a long way to go to meet program goals" and that "more technical problems are likely." Company executives said they were surprised by the strong language. Pratt and Whitney's head of military engines Bennett Croswell said the data is accurate but "fails to tell the rest of the story." He said the company has updated its latest production engines to fix prior reliability issues, and those engines are meeting current government reliability marks. According to company numbers that account for additional hours that engines are running on the ground, the conventional variant performs at 147 percent of required reliability levels and the short-takeoff and vertical landing variant performs at 119 percent of required levels. The company is producing the F135 engines in Middletown, Conn., and West Palm Beach, Fla. The military plans to spend $391.1 billion for a fleet of 2,443 planes from prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. (Sources: Hartford Courant, Bloomberg, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, 04/27/15) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center.