Air Force grounds B-1B Lancer bombers fleet due to safety reasons
The United States Air Force grounded its fleet of strategic bombers B-1B Lancer on June 7, 2018, after a defect was found in the ejection system.
A B-1B Lancer encountered an engine fire mid-fly at Midland International Air and Space Port (MAF) on May 1, 2018. The crew attempted to eject, triggering their ACES II seats manually. But after the first crew member’s seat failed to trigger, they decided to land despite a blown emergency hatch, according to pictures collected by Air Force Times. All four crewmembers managed to land safely, and exited through the floor hatch.
During the safety investigation that ensued, a defect in the ejection seat components was discovered, urging the Air Force Global Strike Command to enforce a grounding of all aircraft currently in operation. “As these issues are resolved, aircraft will return to flight,” said the command in an official announcement. It is not yet known how long the grounding will last.
The Rockwell B-1B Lancer is a supersonic strategic heavy bomber with variable wings developed during the Cold War. It is used for long-range missile strikes and is currently engaged in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. B-1Bs were used in the recent strikes over Syria led by the United States, conjointly with France and the United Kingdom. However, the USAF can rely on other aircraft to fulfill missions while the Lancers are being inspected.
A similar incident killed three persons in 1988, when one failing to eject seat from a B-1B prevented an instructor to escape a deadly crash.
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