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Navy Grounds 104 Hornets To Inspect For Airframe Cracking

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Old March 14th 10, 01:56 AM posted to rec.aviation.military,sci.military.naval,rec.aviation.military.naval
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Default Navy Grounds 104 Hornets To Inspect For Airframe Cracking

Navy Grounds 104 Hornets To Inspect For Airframe Cracking
As a result of an emerging safety of flight issue with legacy Boeing
[BA] F/A-18A-D Hornets, the Navy is grounding 104 of the aircraft
after inspections revealed that cracking has occurred earlier than
predicted in some airframes, according to the service. To date, 13
Hornets have been inspected and six aircraft have had cracks, Marcia
Hart-Wise, spokeswoman for the program executive office tactical
aircraft programs, told Defense Daily Friday. While repairs will be
done at the depot level, when the repairs will begin and how long they
will take, isn't known yet, Hart-Wise added. "If no cracks are found,
the aircraft will be returned to full flight status with a recurring
inspection every 100 flight hours," she said. "If the magnetic field
inspection is unavailable, a visual inspection will be performed. If
no cracks are discovered, the aircraft will be returned to flight
status with a 4G restriction and a recurring daily visual inspection."
This issue was a known potential "high-stress focus area" and was
assessed during the F/A-18A-D Service Life Assessment Program (SLAP),
according to Lt. Nate Christensen, a Navy spokesman. There are 635 F/
A-18A-D aircraft in the Navy and Marine Corps. Currently, 104 F/A-18A-
D aircraft exceed the test demonstrated life limit for this particular
area of the aircraft and have the highest potential for cracks in this
location, Christensen said. "Of the 104 aircraft, 27 are in
maintenance and 77 are in flight status. Of those 77, five are
currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet in Iwakuni, Japan, five are
assigned to the Blue Angels, 44 are in fleet replacement squadrons and
23 are in fleet squadrons," he said. "At this time, there are no
impacts to aircraft supporting operations in Iraq or Afghanistan,"
Christensen added. Preliminary investigation results indicate the
Marine Corps F/A-18 mishap earlier this week in Beaufort, S.C., was
not related or caused by this issue, Christensen noted. Blue Angels
aircraft participating in this week's air show successfully passed the
AFB-710 inspection March 11, with no crack indications and are cleared
to fully participate, he said.

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