What was initially presented as a 3-day grounding of the T-45 training jets by the Navy out of an “abundance of caution” has turned into an indefinite grounding of all 197 T-45 training jets in the fleet, as engineers pour over the oxygen systems to try to figure out what’s wrong with them.
The US Navy has initially been loathe to ground the planes, but agreed to the three-day pause because dozens of instructors began refusing to fly in the planes at all because of safety concerns. Apparently that concern has grown into concerns of “urgent” problems with the systems.
The Navy has had this problem for years, with a number of pilots suffering from symptoms related to oxygen system problems after flying in the T-45. The number of cases of such symptoms has quadrupled in the past five years.
Congress was pressing for action to resolve the concerns with the trainer jets, and that coupled with the trainers refusing to use them finally forced the Navy’s hand. Now the big question is whether the Navy can figure out what is wrong with the systems.