Cause of F-35B Fuel Issue Identified

Investigators determined that an “improperly crimped” fuel hydraulic line was the cause of the anomaly with a Marine Corps F-35B strike fighter prior to takeoff at Eglin AFB, Fla., on Jan. 16, F-35 program office spokesman Joe DellaVedova told the Daily Report on Wednesday. The incident led to the grounding of the 25 F-35Bs in use as test and training assets across the country. The standdown is still in place, said DellaVedova. F-35 engine supplier Pratt & Whitney and the subcontractor for the fuel hydraulic line have instituted corrective action to improve their “quality control process and ensure part integrity,” he said on Jan. 30. Investigators ruled out any design issues with the airplane, but did find six non-compliant parts that maintainers have removed and returned to P&W for replacement, he said. F-35 officials are working on the return-to-flight plan for the F-35Bs, he said. It will require removal and inspection of parts on the 25 airplanes, noted DellaVedova, adding that there was no specific date set yet for their return to flight operations. F-35A and F-35C models have continued to fly during this time.