Navy grounds T-45C trainer aircraft over safety concerns

The U.S. Navy ordered a three-day pause in flight operations to investigate oxygen supply problems reported by pilots.
By Richard Tomkins   |   April 6, 2017 at 12:51 PM
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April 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy has temporarily grounded its T-45C trainer aircraft fleet amid oxygen supply problems that could incapacitate its crew.

The three-day pause in flight operations took effect Wednesday on orders from Naval Air Forces Commander Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker.

"The pause is in response to concerns raised by T-45C pilots over the potential for physiological episodes," U.S. Navy officials said in a news release. "It will also allow time for Naval Aviation leadership to engage with the pilots, hear their concerns and discuss the risk mitigation efforts that are ongoing to correct this issue. Flight operations are expected to resume on Monday."

The action follows the cancellation last Friday of 94 training flights at three Naval Air Stations after instructor pilots raised safety concerns, the Navy said.

The concerns arose from physiological episodes caused by contamination of the aircraft's Onboard Oxygen Generation System, the Navy said.

Navy engineers earlier this week conducted interviews with the T-45C pilots.

"This issue is my number one safety priority and our team of NAVAIR program managers, engineers and maintenance experts in conjunction with Type Commanders, medical and physiological experts continue to be immersed in this effort working with a sense of urgency to determine all the root causes of PEs along multiple lines of effort," said Vice Adm. Shoemaker said.

The T-45C Goshawk is a carrier-capable jet trainer and a derivative of the British Aerospace Hawk. The Navy has 197 of the aircraft at Florida Naval Air Stations.

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