Two of the three pilots on board the P-3 Orion that narrowly averted a fatal catastrophe last year when it plummeted nearly 6,000 in 25 seconds were not current with flight-time requirements, an internal Navy report shows.Something, methinks, we will hear about this in the end as well.
In addition, when the aircraft began to shake violently and an engine malfunctioned, the crew fell into “scope lock” and did not strictly follow the Navy’s air training standards, according to the Judge Advocate General Manual investigation, obtained by Navy Times.
However, those issues did not result in any disciplinary action stemming from the July 22 incident near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., according to the report.
The P-3 from Patrol Squadron 1 was conducting a training flight in which one of its four engines was shut down on purpose. But a second engine on the same port wing malfunctioned, rolling the aircraft violently and sending it spiraling toward the ground at 290 knots. The plane was pulling more than 5 Gs before the aviators were able to restart the first engine to recover at less than 200 feet and land safely.
The plane was essentially destroyed — the fuel tank was ripped open, several panels were bent or buckled, and dozens of rivets ripped out as the starboard wing skin peeled away, the report says. It will not be returned to the fleet.
The incident came seven months after the Navy had already grounded 39 P-3s — almost onequarter of the maritime patrol fleet at the time — because of fears that “structural fatigue” could cause wing sections to break off in flight.
According to the report, two pilots and an off-duty pilot along with three flight engineers and an observer were on board.
One of the pilots had 3.8 flight hours during the previous 30 days, far short of the 10 hours required by Patrol and Reconnaissance Group. A second pilot had 3.3 flight hours, the report says.
One more thing from the article caught me.
The flight instructor and patrol plane commander were sent before a Field Naval Aviator Evaluation Board, the report says. A Navy spokesman declined to dis close the results of those boards.Ummmmm .... two dudes just don't walk out to an aircraft and go fly. There were a lot of people who had to know how few hours those guys (or gals) had -- accountability? Isn't there a flight schedule or sump'n signed off?
AW1 - you know your way around P-3s and their ilk .... pilot hours must be about as much of a secret as how many girlfriends the high school quarterback has. With so many people hunting so few opportunities to get flight hours - people have to be watching who is getting what close.
As P-3 spy told me - there is nothing magic or new about pilot currency - there is only more fudge.