Super Hornets' Wing Fitting May Be Wearing Out Too Fast




 
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Super Hornets' Wing Fitting May Be Wearing Out Too Fast
 
May 19th, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Super Hornets' Wing Fitting May Be Wearing Out Too Fast


Super Hornets' Wing Fitting May Be Wearing Out Too Fast
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot
May 18, 2007
By Jack Dorsey, The Virginian-Pilot
VIRGINIA BEACH - A part in the wing of the Navy's F/A-18 Super Hornet may be wearing out too fast and could shorten the fighter jet's service life, the Navy said Thursday.
While Navy officials insist the problem does not affect readiness and there is no danger of the plane breaking up, they have told the manufacturer, Boeing Co., to make changes in Super Hornet production.
Planes already operating off the decks of Navy carriers also must be retrofitted. Super Hornets cost $50 million each, and it wasn't immediately known what the wing repair would cost.
Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach is the East Coast master jet base for 121 "E" and "F" model Super Hornets and 151 older "C" model Hornets, base spokesman Troy Snead said Thursday.
The older models are not affected by the issue, other Navy officials said.
The repair involves the jet's pylon fitting - part of the lower wing spar used to reinforce the area where munitions such as bombs and missiles attach to the wing, the Navy said in a statement Thursday.
"The potential problem was identified through an engineering analysis in 2003 and subsequent testing in 2005, which are part of our routine risk-mitigation processes for the aircraft's development," the statement said.
"The Navy and Boeing worked together, a fully funded project is under way, and today every aircraft coming off the production line is being delivered with the solution that corrects for the potential future fatigue."
A retrofit for aircraft already in the fleet is planned for 2009 and will fix the problem before the planes reach the point at which fatigue could happen, the news release added.
Engineers discovered the flaw that could reduce by half the aircraft's expected service life of 6,000 flying hours, according to an article published in Thursday's Boston Globe.
Chuck Wagner, a spokesman for the Naval Air Systems Command, said Thursday that his office disagreed with the newspaper's story.
"Technically some of the stuff is accurate, but overall it is a misrepresentation," he said.
The Navy issued Thursday's statement in response to the Globe's story.
In 1997, a "wing drop" problem was discovered on the Super Hornet that seemed to threaten the program. It was eliminated by placing a screen like covering over a small portion of the wing. The screen alters the air flow and prevents the wing from pitching downward during some banking maneuvers.
 


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