Lessons from Eglin F-35 Engine Fire

Le Bourget, France The F-35A engine fire at Eglin AFB, Fla., last year resulted in improved information sharing between F135 engine-maker Pratt and Whitney, the US services, and partner nations, Pratt and Whitney F135 Vice President Mark Buongiorno told Air Force Magazine during the Paris Air Show last week. “I think there was learning on all fronts,” he said. From a technical view, there was learning between P&W, the US services, and the partner nations on how to better “manage and control communications under an [AIB],” or safety investigation board, he said. But, he added, P&W got the aircraft flying again in just over three weeks, got to a root cause within 120 days, “and we were able to field fixes [into production line aircraft] in less than a year.” As of June, the company has retrofitted over 50 F-35s with fixes, including pre-trenching engine stators, which is slated to wrap by early 2016. “I don’t think the process failed us, because it really did yield some pretty good results when it comes to getting to the root cause, … configuring, and releasing to production.” Buongiorno said the process of getting to a root cause on the fire was aided because engineers had “good information available” from the F-35’s systems. “This is a data rich aircraft, so that helped to get to the root cause quickly,” he said.