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Second grounding of the F-35 fleet in one month comes to an end

The entire Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fleet spent six days grounded after a crack was discovered in an engine component of one aircraft. Flights resumed on Friday afternoon, following the conclusion of an investigation into the problem according to officials for the F-35 program.

"Following engineering analysis of the turbine blade which developed a crack, F-35 flight operations have been cleared to resume," the Joint Program Office and Pratt & Whitney said in a joint statement.

"This decision concludes a cautionary flight suspension that began on Feb. 21 after a 0.6 inch crack was found on a 3rd stage turbine blade of a test aircraft at the Edwards Air Force Base F-35 Integrated Test Facility during a routine inspection.

"The engine in question is part of the F-35 test aircraft fleet, and had been operated at extreme parameters 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."
 
The statement also noted that no signs of similar engine stress or other cracks were found during inspections of the remaining F135 engine inventory for the F-35 fleet. The investigation also determined that no engine redesign was required because the crack was only found in a single aircraft turbine blade.

 
The Pentagon also announced a new deal clearing a path to eventually lead to the purchase of Lot 8 in the LRIP plan for the F-35. The deal is worth $333,786,000.

Source: Defense News





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