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HeliTorque :: View topic - $5 Pin Causes $6.7 Million Damage to F-22
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HeliTorque Forum Index » The Bar

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$5 Pin Causes $6.7 Million Damage to F-22
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:39 pm    Post subject: $5 Pin Causes $6.7 Million Damage to F-22 Reply with quote

One night last October in the Utah desert, an Air Force mechanic double-checked the landing gear on a gleaming new F-22 Raptor fighter jet. It was five days into the Langley Air Force Base unit's first training mission.

The mechanic spotted a 5-inch metal pin and an attached streamer fastened to the front landing gear. It needed to be removed before the plane could depart on its late-night mission.

Inside the cockpit, the pilot shut down one of the plane's two engines. The mechanic reached into the landing gear and pulled the small pin and 3-foot streamer.

In an instant, the piece leaped from the mechanic's grip and into the still-turning jet engine. Sparks flew. Metal screeched. Stomachs dropped.

On Wednesday, the Air Force released its investigation of the incident and tallied the repair bill - $6.7 million plus.

"It was an accident," said First Lt. Daniel Goldberg, spokesman for Air Combat Command at Langley. "It's a new plane. As we work along, we're going to try to find out any problems."

No one was injured in the Oct. 20 incident at Hill Air Force Base.

The Air Force has waited decades to unveil the F-22, touted as the top air-to-air fighter in the world. The plane has a stealthy profile, allowing it to avoid radar and strike without being easily detected.

Critics say it's a costly relic, designed during the Cold War to dogfight with Soviet jets. The Air Force estimates each plane costs $133 million, making it the country's most expensive fighter jet.

The Air Force declared the Raptor combat-ready in December. The service has about 25 F-22s in squadrons, all based at Langley.

The damaged jet was part of the 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Wing. It had been at Langley for three months, flying a total of 47 hours.

The crew, making its first deployment with the jet, was preparing for a high-altitude night training mission when the accident occurred.

Investigators found that the pilot and mechanic had acted correctly. The pilot, Maj. Evan Dertien , is described as "a highly experienced fighter pilot" and a graduate of the Air Force's competitive test pilot school. The mechanic was unnamed in the report.

Investigators blamed the accident on an inadequate and incomplete training manual. They said the manual fails to instruct mechanics on the proper procedure for pulling the nose landing-gear pin while the engines are running. The manual will be amended.

Goldberg said the nose landing-gear pin keeps the landing gear from collapsing. Its cost is "minimal."

He added that the force generated by an F-22 engine is greater than that of other Air Force fighters. It's unlikely a similar accident would have occurred on an F-15 or F-16 aircraft, he said.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, i was part of the -after the fact- "F.O.D Walk", but we work directly with QA/Safety, and I recall the story was slightly different than that. Just a little "Matter of fact", nobody is allowed in front of an engine while its spinning at any speed, especially for the situation as described. I won't go into any other details.

But I just work there, so what do i know... Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Corey - Having been in the back of many a fighter during Last Chance etc I have never seen anyone approach the engine inlets of any jet so was surprised to see the press release worded as it was, but hey must have come from an ACC PAO Smile
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