The cause of a June 23 fire in a USAF F-35A has been traced to the aircraft’s engine according to a report in the USNI News.
The report cites multiple sources who have said the fire was “definitely” related to the engine and possibly to the attached integrated power pack, and that engine-maker Pratt & Whitney was in the process of “tearing down” the damaged engine in an effort to pin point the cause.
“We are working closely with the Air Force Safety Investigation Board to determine root cause and inspect all engines in the fleet. Safety is our top priority,” P&W spokesman Matthew Bates told USNI News on July 7. “Since the incident is the subject of an investigation it is inappropriate to comment further.”
The fire has reportedly been declared a ‘Class A’ accident which means more than $2 million damage was caused, and has potentially resulted in the aircraft being declared a write-off.
Reuters has reported that, as of the evening of July 7 the fleet remained grounded. It said most of the F-35s had been inspected and officials were anticipating a resumption of flights soon once US, UK and Dutch officials – as owners of the 104 F-35s – had reviewed the results of the inspections.
But a return to flight may not occur in time for the F-35 to make its international airshow debut, with four USMC and one RAF F-35Bs still on the ground at Pax River. USMC officials have stated that they are continuing to plan for a four-aircraft deployment across the Atlantic, but with the Royal International Air Tattoo starting on July 12, and Farnborough the following week, time is now at a premium.