The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fleet of 33 BAE Systems Hawk 127 Lead-in Fighter Trainers are back flying after being grounded for three weeks following an “engine issue” during a training flight.
The incident that led to the grounding occurred at RAAF Base Pearce north of Perth on May 14, when a 79SQN Hawk was conducting touch-and-go training. The aircraft experienced an unspecified engine issue, and the trainee pilot was able to safely land the aircraft without damage or injury.
Following the incident, the RAAF grounded its fleet of Hawks until June 6 to allow the investigation sufficient time to deliver preliminary findings and to discover a root cause of the engine incident.
In response to questions from Australian Aviation sister publication ADBR, an RAAF spokesman said the “current state of investigations with Rolls-Royce, the Hawk Design Authority (BAE Systems in the UK) and RAAF have allowed the Hawk Lead-In Fighter aircraft to resume flying on Thursday 6 June”.
While there were no operational restrictions to the fleet following the removal of the grounding, the spokesman said “aircrew have been advised to be stringent in their application of existing operational controls to ensure any risk is reduced so far as reasonably practicable”.
The Hawk Mark 127 Lead-In Fighter is a tandem, two-seat jet aircraft. It is used to prepare the RAAF’s fast jet aircrew for operational conversion to the F/A-18 Hornet, F/A-18 Super Hornet and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The type entered service with the RAAF in 2001 and is powered by a single Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 871 engine.
The fleet recently completed the comprehensive AIR 5438 Lead-in Fighter Capability Assurance Program (LIFCAP) upgrade to better provide advanced training for the next generation of RAAF frontline air combat pilots for aircraft such as the F-35A Lightning II.
It was announced earlier in 2019 that BAE Systems Australia had signed a two-year contract, worth $245 million, to continue sustaining the RAAF Hawk Mk127 Lead-In Fighter fleet at RAAF Base Pearce and RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales until at least 2022, with further potential performance-based extensions.