Jul 15, 2014
F-35 Cleared For restricted Flight envelope but Won't fly To Farnborough
A statement released by , Pentagon Press Secretary, confirmed the news.
“Yesterday the air worthiness authorities for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force approved the F-35 fleet to return to flight,” Kirby said in the statement. “This is a limited flight clearance that includes an engine inspection regimen and a restricted flight envelope which will remain in effect until the root cause of the June 23 engine mishap is identified and corrected.”
The F-35 fleet was grounded on July 3, the result of an ongoing investigation into an engine fire that heavily damaged an F-35A model known as AF-27. The grounding meant the jet missed its scheduled international debut at last weeks Royal International Air Tattoo, as well as the first two days of Farnborough.
The cause of the fire has been identified as excessive rubbing from a fan blade against part of an F135 engine, designed by Pratt & Whitney.
The F-35 joint strike fighter will not be flying at the Farnborough International Airshow, to the disappointment of attendees.
It was a whirlwind day of emotion for the program on Tuesday, talk of which has dominated both Farnborough and last week’s Royal International Air Tattoo despite the jets having missed their planned international debut.
Early Tuesday morning, word surfaced that the Pentagon had ended a July 3 grounding order for the fleet, the result of an ongoing investigation into the cause of a June 23 fire on an Air Force F-35A model. However, the aircraft are limited to a speed of .9 Mach, 18 degrees of angle of attack, -1 to +3 G-forces and a “half-a-stick-deflection for rolls,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday.
After three hours of flight time, the front fan section of each engine must undergo an inspection with a borescope.
For a few hours, it looked as though the plane would make it to Farnborough around the end of the week. But later on Tuesday, US Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos made the decision not to send the US F-35B aircraft to Europe.
“While we’re disappointed we’re not going to participate in the air show, we remain fully committed to the program itself and look forward to future opportunities to showcase its capabilities to allies and partners,” Kirby said.
Safety has been the key concern for US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel throughout the process, a point he emphasized when visiting the F-35 schoolhouse at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida last week.