Navy lifts operational pause on T-45C Goshawk fleet

by Vern Evans

The majority of the Navy’s T-45C Goshawk jet trainer fleet is no longer grounded, following an operational pause that followed an engine failure aboard one of the jets on April 12.

Preliminary findings from a Naval Air Systems Command and Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program Office probe indicate that the aircraft involved in the mishap suffered an “engine blade failure due to a manufacturing defect on a low-pressure compressor blade,” Chief of Naval Air Training spokeswoman Anne Owens said.

But now, 154 T-45C Goshawk jets are back in service — with 113 returned to flight status and an additional 41 undergoing maintenance to return to flight status, Owens said. Aircraft started to return to flight status on April 22.

“The T-45s that were returned to flight status contain blades that have been meticulously and methodically inspected as well as blades produced by a different manufacturer that have more than 1.6 million flight hours without a similar manufacturing defect observed,” Owens said. “The Navy has returned more than 90 percent of T-45 engines to service.”

Rolls Royce, the T-45C engine manufacturer, is assessing engineering data so the aircraft still out of commission may return to operational status.

The grounding stemmed from an incident involving a T-45C Goshawk from Training Air Wing 1 that suffered an “in-flight engine malfunction,” prompting the aircraft to execute a precautionary landing in Hesler-Noble Field in Laurel, Mississippi. No injuries were reported.

Naval Safety Command also reported an engine malfunction at takeoff from a T-45 based out of Naval Air Station Meridian in Mississippi on March 18, prompting the crew to conduct a high-speed abort. No injuries were reported in that case either.

These cases are not believed to be related, Owen said. Each qualified as Class A mishaps, which the Navy characterizes as those involving death, $2.5 million or more in damages, or the destruction of an aircraft.

The Navy and Marine Corps utilize the T-45 for its pilot training program for jet carrier aviation and tactical strike missions. The Navy first introduced the T-45C variant to the fleet in 1997.

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