Edwards AFB test team verifies F-35 crash recovery procedures

29 January 2019 (Last Updated January 29th, 2019 11:17)

A team of testers from Edwards Airforce Base (AFB) has collaborated with Lockheed Martin representatives to verify crash recovery procedures for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft.

Edwards AFB test team verifies F-35 crash recovery procedures
461st Flight Test Squadron’s F-35 aircraft AF-04 sits in Hangar 1600 as a test team verifies crash and disabled aircraft recovery procedures. Credit: USAF / Kenji Thuloweit.

A team of testers from Edwards Airforce Base (AFB) has collaborated with Lockheed Martin representatives to verify crash recovery procedures for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft.

The objective of the two-day event was to verify measures on the aircraft taken during crash, damage, disabled aircraft recovery (CDDAR).

During the event, members from the 412th Maintenance Squadron executed the actual procedures on the single-seat aircraft.

The testers verified different methods, including using an aircraft sling attached to the F-35 to be lifted by a crane.

Other methods reviewed included ‘belly bands’ that can be positioned beneath the aircraft and attached to a crane; and inflatable airbags or lifting bags that can lift a crashed or disabled F-35.

412th Logistics Test Squadron F-35 Joint-Service Technical Order Development Edwards Verification Site lead Robert Miller said: “Each item used can be tailored to the incident. For example, if the right main landing gear is collapsed, there are procedures using any of the above items to lift the disabled side.”

“In the event of an incident, the CDDAR team needs well vetted and tested procedures in order to recover the aircraft.”

Miller added that the 412th MXS will handle local crash recovery response.

Also in attendance at the verification event were members from the 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron who offered assistance in aircraft access, cover removal and aircraft preparation.

Representatives from Lockheed Martin at the event included an engineer and a crash recovery procedures author.

Miller further stated: “These are procedures we have in the F-35 operating community we hope are never used. However, in the event of an incident, the CDDAR team needs well vetted and tested procedures in order to recover the aircraft.

“If the aircraft is still on the runway, it may become time sensitive to remove the aircraft. There are so many variables and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to recovering a disabled aircraft.”

The technical order verification team covers all variants of the F-35, Miller added.

The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter designed to support the US Air Force, the US Navy, and the US Marine Corps.