Grounded B-1 Bombers – Mattis Says Back in Service Soon
It was a potentially “catastrophic” engine fire in a B-1 Bomber that caused the Air Force to ground the entire B-1 fleet on June 7. One person in the 4 man crew in that incident was unable to eject from the aircraft due to a malfunction with the ejection seat. The crew remained on board the plane and the pilot was able to land it safely. But the ejection seat issue had to be fixed. Mattis says it will be “fixed very quickly.”
According to the Air Force Times in May after the Emergency Landing,
A B-1 has a crew of four: A pilot, co-pilot, and two weapons officers seated behind them. Each crew member is strapped into an ACES II ejection seat, and there is an escape hatch above each B-1 crew member.
In an emergency, once the ejection handle is pulled, an automatic sequence takes over. The hatch is blown and the seats are launched from the aircraft via a STAPAC rocket motor. The entire sequence takes seconds to complete.
Only in that case, the ejection seat malfunctioned, and the crewman could not eject. The pilot was able to safely land the plane, but as soon as it landed, foam was used to put out the fire.
On June 7, the Air Force ordered all B-1 Bombers grounded, according to Fox News.
“I’m not concerned about it. Whatever it is, it will be fixed very quickly… There are times where we find a problem with some aspect of an airplane so we’ll shut ’em down, we’ll check it, and they come back up very quickly. We’ll just have to watch and see how this goes.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Monday to Military Times
Numerous aircraft mishaps and issues have sprung up over the last five years during the “sequester.” It will take a long time to fix all the problems that the lack of funds created.
“What we’re doing on readiness — there’s trailing indicators, I would call them. In other words, if you fail to do things five years ago, three years ago, one year ago, you don’t reverse all those things with the money that Congress has given us.” James Mattis
The Secretary says he has been going through a “readiness” notebook that’s about “three inches thick.” He plans to deal with each one “as we apply the money, or the time, or the troops.” The aircraft issue is just one item at the top of the list.
An F-15 crashed on Sunday near Kadena Air Base in Japan. The pilot was able to eject, and was recovered by a rescue team from Okinawa, but is reportedly in serious condition after the incident. The F-15 was on a “training mission,” so all training sorties were halted while the 18th Wing reviews “operational, maintenance, and safety issues.”