Navy grounds T-45 trainer jet fleet
By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 5, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Navy has grounded its T-45 Goshawk trainer jets in response to increased incidents where pilots’ oxygen systems have malfunctioned, the service announced Wednesday.
The move comes after Navy officials traveled to the service’s T-45 bases in Kingsville, Texas, Pensacola, Fla., and Meridian, Miss., to meet with Navy and Marine Corps T-45 instructors who were refusing to conduct training flights because of concerns about oxygen system safety, said Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld, a spokeswoman for Naval Air Forces.
“Last Friday, we had roughly 40 percent of our flights canceled in the T-45 training commands in Meridian, Pensacola and Kingsville because of operational risk management concerns voiced by the instructor pilots,” she said.
The T-45 is the Navy and Marine Corps primary trainer jet and instructors have reported an increase in incidents where the oxygen breathing system has either malfunctioned or the oxygen that it was delivering to the pilot was contaminated, Groeneveld said.
Fox News, which first reported the issue, said instructors have had to physically pull students from the cockpits of malfunctioning aircraft due to illness generated by the oxygen system.
Malfunctioning breathing or pressurization systems also impact the Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet, Navy officials testified last week to Congress.
The grounding, which will remain in place for two days, affects 197 aircraft, Groeneveld said.
The chief of naval air training “immediately requested the engineering experts … who are working to correct this problem,” she said.
The engineers met with training wings at Naval Air State Kingsville on Monday. Engineers met with training wings at Naval Air Station Meridian and Naval Air Station Pensacola on Tuesday.