An F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft that caught fire in 2014 suffered from a catastrophic engine failure, an Air Education and Training Command Accident Investigation Board report has revealed.
In June last year, an F-35A assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing (33rd FW) caught fire in the aft end while taking off on a training flight at the Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, US.
The pilot had aborted the take off and escaped unhurt and the fire was immediately extinguished by emergency responders using foam.
The Accident Investigation Board found that the mishap was caused after the engine failed when the third stage forward integral arm of a rotor fractured and liberated during the takeoff roll.
According to the report, pieces of the failed rotor arm cut through the engine’s fan case, the engine bay, an internal fuel tank, and hydraulic and fuel lines and exited through the aircraft’s upper fuselage.
It resulted in leaking fuel and hydraulic fluid to ignite and burned the rear two thirds of the aircraft.
The investigation authority also stated that the accident caused more than $50m worth of damages.
According to the Accident Investigation Board, it only assessed the immediate causes of this mishap and uses technical information available during the investigation by the assembled board at Eglin Air Force Base in August 2014.
The F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) is developed by Lockheed Martin. It is a fifth-generation multi-role jet designed to conduct ground attacks, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.
Image: A Lockheed Martin-built F-35C Lightning II. Photo: courtesy of Andy Wolfe.