Saturday, June 6, 2015

Catastrophic engine failure cited

Last year's fire that destroyed an F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and grounded the fleet of fifth generation fighters nearly a month was caused by "catastrophic engine failure." According to an Air Force investigation released Friday, the June 23 fire that started as the pilot was beginning to take off was caused by a fractured engine rotor. The fire on the jet, assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, caused the Pentagon to cancel the F-35's appearance at the 2014 Farnborough air show in England. According to the Air Education and Training Command Accident Investigation Board, the third-stage forward integral arm of a rotor fractured and broke free during the takeoff roll. Pieces cut through the engine's fan case, engine bay, internal fuel tank and hydraulic and fuel lines before leaving through the aircraft's upper fuselage. Leaked fuel and hydraulic fluid ignited the fire, which burned the rear two-thirds of the aircraft, according to the report. Total damage is estimated to be more than $50 million, according to AETC. F-35 engines, the F135, are made by Pratt and Whitney. (Sources: Air Force Times, Northwest Florida Daily News, 06/05/15)