KC-135s, RC-135s Stand Down Pending Security Inspections

The Air Power ordered security inspections for its complete fleets of KC-135 tankers, RC-135 reconnaissance planes, and WC-135 “nuke sniffers” to make sure no plane fly till defective tail pins are changed. 

The Time Compliance Technical Order (TCTO), issued Feb. 14, impacts a whole lot of plane. However the Air Power Life Cycle Administration Heart mentioned the inspections ought to take simply half-hour and even earlier than the order was issued, at the least 90 KC-135s had already cleared the inspections.  

The order got here to gentle when a memo detailing the difficulty was printed on the unofficial amn/nco/snco Fb web page. The Life Cycle Administration Heart confirmed the memo’s authenticity to Air & Area Forces Journal. 

In keeping with the memo, the Air Power purchased 280 vertical terminal becoming pins—tail pins—from a provider between 2020 and 2022, however a subsequent high quality deficiency report concluded the components have been defective. An evaluation of two pins discovered they have been the wrong measurement, made with the improper materials, and insufficiently plated. 

The memo acknowledged that engineering evaluation was underway to find out the sturdiness and harm tolerance of the pints, however warned that the aft pins particularly carry a lot of the load for the tail fin—and if one of many pins failed, the opposite can be unlikely to deal with the load, a probably catastrophic threat. 

Precisely how lots of the 280 pins in query have been ever put in is unclear, however the memo states the tail pins on every plane are changed throughout programmed depot upkeep, and a preliminary evaluation of the depot upkeep knowledge from 2020 to 2022 confirmed at the least 200 plane could possibly be affected. The Air Power’s stock included 394 KC-135s, 22 RC-135s, and three WC-135s at the beginning of 2022. 

The choice to face down the complete fleet for inspections was made “out of an abundance of warning, after consulting with our engineering consultants,” Col. Michael Kovalchek, senior materiel chief for the Life Cycle Administration Heart’s Legacy Tanker Division, mentioned in an announcement. “We’re working carefully with Air Mobility Command and all operational customers and anticipate all probably affected plane might be inspected.” 

As of Feb. 12, 90 plane had been inspected, in keeping with an AFLCMC launch, and 24 have been discovered to have nonconforming pins. These 24, together with some other subsequent plane decided to have the defective pins, might be allowed to fly yet one more time to a restore location, with most substitute pins solely taking a day to put in. Most of that work is anticipated to be performed on the Oklahoma Metropolis Air Logistics Advanced, in keeping with the discharge. 

The 66 different inspected plane have been cleared to fly once more. 

Lots of the Air Power’s CV-22 Ospreys are additionally unable to fly pending substitute of clutch parts that exceeded a brand new flight-hour restrict. Not like the tail pin concern, which has but to lead to mishaps, the Osprey stand-down got here in response to a number of “onerous clutch engagement” incidents, resulting in emergency landings final summer season.