Thursday, December 06, 2007

Officials stand down F-15 A-D models until further notice

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- The commander of Air Combat Command directed the stand-down Dec. 3 of all ACC F-15 A through D model aircraft until further notice.

The decision follows additional information received from the ongoing investigation of the Nov. 2 F-15C mishap that resulted in the loss of that aircraft.

Gen. John D.W. Corley, ACC commander, also recommended the grounding of all other A through D model aircraft in other Air Force major commands, including those under the operational control of U.S. combatant commanders.

Monday's findings from the accident investigation board indicate that a recently discovered defect may be more extensive and found in more aircraft than initially thought. These findings, based on a metallurgical analysis of the mishap aircraft, continue to focus on the F-15's upper longerons near the canopy of the aircraft. Additional cracks have been discovered in these longerons. The longerons are major structural components that run along the length and side of the aircraft.

Technical experts with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., are developing a specific inspection technique for the suspect area based on the recent findings. However, unlike previous inspections, the inspected aircraft will not be immediately returned to flight.

The duration of the stand-down is pending. Aircraft will not be returned to operational status until the F-15 A-D model findings and data have been analyzed, required inspections have been accomplished and the necessary repair or mitigation actions have been completed.

Computer simulations have indicated a catastrophic structural failure could result from cracks in the longerons. To date, longeron cracks have been discovered in an additional four aircraft. These aircraft are awaiting further engineering instructions before they are returned to operational status.

Air Combat Command officials continue to work with those in the Air National Guard, the Air Force Reserve and sister major commands in Europe and the Pacific, as well as with joint and coalition partners, to ensure mission coverage.

The stand-down does not affect the F-15E Strike Eagle.