F-35B jets cleared for Yuma takeoff
The Joint Strike Fighter Program Office has cleared the F-35B variant of the Joint Strike Fighter to resume flight operations, clearing the way for the three Lightnings at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma to finally take to the skies.
The order restoring flight clearance was issued Tuesday, roughly a month after the planes were grounded as a precaution after a fueldraulic hose failure was discovered in the jet. The short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the jets were grounded after a Jan. 16 test flight at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., had to be aborted.
According to the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office, it and engineering teams from engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney conducted a root cause investigation of the problem and determined the fueldraulic hose that caused the problem had been improperly crimped. In all, the fueldraulic hose was found to have been improperly crimped on six jets.
"All affected hoses have been inspected, and those out of tolerances will be replaced," said Joe DellaVedova, public affairs director for the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office.
Flight operations for F-35A or F-35C model of the aircraft were unaffected by the suspension.
Capt. Staci Reidinger, public affairs director for MCAS Yuma, said the air station is waiting to receive the parts the mechanics in VMFA-121 need to conduct repairs.
"We are looking at getting those in by early next week. Then we will start doing those modifications."
MCAS Yuma was scheduled to receive its fourth F-35B in late January, but delivery was canceled due to the grounding. Now that flight clearance has officially been restored, Reidinger said the jet should be arriving within the next seven to 10 days.
Reidinger said MCAS Yuma also had been awaiting its final certification to fly from the Federal Aviation Administration. It has since been approved, clearing the way for the air station to begin conducting flight operations with the new jet as soon as the end of the month.
The F-35B fleet of 25 aircraft stationed at Eglin Air Force base, MCAS Yuma and Lockheed’s production factory in Fort Worth, Texas, will be cleared for return to flight upon reinstallation of compliant hoses by air worthiness authorities at Naval Air Systems Command and the F-35 program office.
The F-35B is the variant of the Lightning II designed for use by the U.S. Marine Corps, as well as F-35 international partners in the United Kingdom and Italy. The F-35B is capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings to enable air power projection from amphibious ships, ski-jump aircraft carriers and expeditionary airfields.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.