Home Medical Factors Facing Pilots Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Aviation News Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics General Aviation Helicopters
Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Links To Other Sites Editorials Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Upcoming Events Editorials


The Pentagon Suspends Flight Operations Of The F-35 Due To An Engine Crack
By Shane Nolan

February 24, 2013 - A routine engine inspection revealed a crack on an engine blade of the F135 engine installed in F-35A aircraft AF-2 operating at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Engineering teams are shipping the engine's turbine module and its associated hardware to Pratt & Whitney's Engine Facility in Middletown, Conn., to conduct more thorough evaluation and root cause analysis. 

As a precautionary measure, all F-35 flight operations have been suspended until the investigation is complete. It is too early to know the fleet-wide impact of the recent finding.

The F-35 Joint Program Office is working closely with Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin at all F-35 locations to ensure the integrity of the engine, and to return the fleet safely to flight as soon as possible. 


The Lockheed Martin F-35 is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters developed to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. The F-35 has three main models; the F-35A is a conventional takeoff and landing variant, the F-35B is a short take off and vertical-landing variant, and the F-35C is a carrier-based variant. 

The F-35 has received good reviews from pilots and maintainers, suggesting it is performing better than its predecessors did at a similar stage of development. The stealth type has proved relatively stable from a maintenance standpoint. Occasionally, there some issues with it on the ground, however, it is usually easily fixed by shutting the aircraft down and restarting it. Part of the improvement is attributed to better maintenance training, as F-35 maintainers have received far more extensive instruction at this early stage of the program than on the F-22 Raptor.  

Furthermore, the F-35's stealth coatings are much easier to work with than those used on the Raptor. Cure times for coating repairs are lower and many of the fasteners and access panels are not coated, further reducing the workload for maintenance crews. Some of the F-35's radar-absorbent materials are baked into the jet's composite skin, which means its stealthy signature is not easily degraded. However, it is still harder to maintain (due to its stealth) than fourth-generation aircraft.



In September 2012, the Pentagon criticized, quite publicly, Lockheed Martin's performance on the F-35 program and stated that it would not bail out the program again if problems with the plane's systems, particularly the helmet-mounted display, were not resolved. The deputy F-35 program manager said that the government's relationship with the company was the "worst I've ever seen" in many years of working on complex acquisition programs. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told reporters the Pentagon had no more money to pour into the program after three costly restructurings in recent years.  

He said the department was done with major restructuring and that there was no further flexibility or tolerance for that approach. This criticism followed a "very painful" 7 September review that focused an array of ongoing program challenges. Lockheed Martin responded with a brief statement saying it would continue to work with the F-35 program office to deliver the new fighter.  

On 28 September 2012, the Pentagon announced that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter support program would become an open competition. They invited companies to participate in a two-day forum on November 14–15 for possible opportunities to compete for work managing the supply chain of the aircraft. Their reason is to reduce F-35 life-cycle costs by creating competition within the program and to refine its acquisition strategy and evaluate alternatives that will deliver the best value, long-term F-35 sustainment solution. This could be hazardous to Lockheed, as they are the current prime contractor for sustainment of all three variants, and selection of another company could reduce their revenues.
Other News Stories (For the latest news please checkout our home page)
blog comments powered by Disqus  
Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share  

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine