Faulty Ejection Seats Cause Grounding Of Scores Of F-35s And Other Aircraft Worldwide

Faulty Ejection Seats Cause Grounding Of Scores Of F-35s And Other Aircraft Worldwide

August 1, 2022 Off By Reem

The US Air Force has grounded a significant portion of its F-35 JSFs stealth fighter aircraft pending an inspection of the aircraft ejection seats mechanism. According to the airforcetimes, the problem first surfaced on April 22nd when maintenance inspection of a Hill Air Force Base’s F-35 revealed that a cartridge used to propel the pilot’s seat during an ejection had released some of its magnesium propellant. Subsequent tests aiming at ascertaining the extent of the problem detected three failures from amongst 2,700 seats tested, all manufactured by Martin Baker. This prompted the issuing of the Time Compliance Technical Directive which mandates the current standing-down of virtually the entire F-35 fleet for emergency inspection.

For Martn Baker, the seat’s manufacturer, the problem which, during the initial phase of investigation was taught to have been an isolated incident was later traced back to quality-assurance failures during the manufacturing process.

Even though the problem was narrowed down to a specific cartridge number, for the Air Force, the stand-down order issued on July 29th left the Air Combat Command with no other option than to ground its entire fleet of more than 300 F-35As. The Time Compliance Technical Directive issued for the circumstance gives the ACC units ninety days to complete the inspections.

Yet, various reports may indicate that the Air Combat Command (ACC), the world’s single largest operator of the F-35As, may not be the sole entity plagued by the stand-down. In facts, the problem seems to have already spread across units, services and even countries by affecting various aircraft types all equipped with Martin Baker ejection seats. For the US Air Force, the problem has not been isolated by the Air Combat Command as other air force commands such as the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) have been affected. The Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command has also been affected by large scale temporary grounded with more than 300 training aircraft also grounded. For the US Navy which is exposed to the problem because it operates F-35Bs and F-35Cs, “the issue was found in the F/A-18B/C/D Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the E/A-18G Growler, as well as the T-45 Goshawk and F-5 Tiger II training aircraft.” The Naval Air Systems Command has declined thus far to disclose how many aircraft have been affected. Naturally, some foreign air arms operating the F-35s and even other aircraft types like the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale, all with versions equipped with Martin Baker seats may be have been exposed to the defect.