Some Return to Flight

Air Combat Command at Langley AFB, Va., yesterday cleared a portion of the Air Force’s F-15 A-D model fighters to flying status after more than two months of stand down resulting from the Nov. 2 mid-air breakup of an Air National Guard F-15C. It also recommended a limited return to flight for Air Force F-15s worldwide following engineering risk assessments and data received from multiple fleet-wide inspections. “The priority in resuming operations for a portion of the F-15 fleet is the defense of our nation—America deserves nothing less,” Gen. John Corley, ACC commander, states in the command’s Jan. 9 release. “Aircraft inspection results and counsel from both military and industry experts have made me confident in the safety of a portion of the fleet. As a result, I have cleared those F-15s to return to fly.” The decisions apply only to about 60 percent of the Air Force’s approximately 440 F-15 A-D models “that have cleared all inspections and have met longeron manufacturing specifications,” ACC says. The longerons are structural support beams around the cockpit. The Air Force believes that catastrophic failure of a longeron caused the Missouri ANG F-15C to break apart during a routine training sortie over eastern Missouri. Corley plans to hold a press conference today in the Pentagon, accompanied by the head of the accident investigation and maintenance, logistics, and operations deputies, to discuss the F-15 situation and what will become of the Eagles still grounded. The Daily Report learned yesterday that senior Air Force leaders believe that 159 F-15s may never fly again. (Read “Should Eagles Dare”)