Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On-going Fatigue Study Leads Navy to Ground Some P-3Cs

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The Naval Air Systems Command issued an Air Frame Bulletin Dec. 17 announcing the grounding of 39 P-3C Orion aircraft due to structural fatigue concerns.

The concerns are the result of continuing P-3 fatigue life analysis and validation by physical findings.

Program officials determined that these aircraft are beyond known structural limits on the lower section of the P-3 wing. Analysis and corrective measures are expected to take between 18 to 24 months per aircraft to complete.

The Navy has a total of 161 P-3C aircraft in its inventory. Of the 39 aircraft being grounded, ten are currently deployed. A plan is being developed to address operational impacts.

The Navy's goal is to ensure that its aircrews operate aircraft that are structurally sound and safe for operational flight. In the interest of safety, the grounded aircraft will either return to safe operation after replacement of critical structural components or will be removed from service.

Program officials are currently evaluating available resources, industrial capacity, and will coordinate with the Fleet regarding the disposition of these aircraft.