Monday, March 4, 2013

F-35: Fleet cleared for take off again

As expected, the F-35 program is back in the air
F-35s were grounded after a crack was found during a routine inspection of a turbine blade of a test aircraft stationed at Edward Air Force Base. The engine was taken to manufacturer Pratt and Whitney's Middletown, Conn. Facility for testing.

Company officials said the results showed the particular F-35 had been operated "for an extended time in the high-temperature environment in its mission to expand the F-35 flight envelope.

Prolonged exposure to high levels of heat and other operational stressors on this specific engine were determined to be the cause of the crack." Pratt and Whitney said no additional cracks were found during the inspections of the remaining F-35 inventory. 
The crack in one blade was on one of the original test aircraft that has been subjected to a great deal of stressful testing.  When you do that, parts will eventually break or fail.  In this case, while the blade did indeed crack, it didn't fail.  It was instead found during routine maintenance checks, just like it is supposed to happen.

The fact that the rest of the fleet has been cleared to resume flying points to the fact that it isn't considered to be a defect with the engine.

Or, for some of those wringing their hands out there and trying to portray this as "another failure in a troubled program", pretty much normal wear and tear that all fighter aircraft at some point experience.


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