Air Force Global Strike Command on April 20 ordered a safety stand-down of its B-1B Lancer fleet to inspect fuel system problems following an April 8 ground emergency.
After the emergency at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., inspectors found a “discrepancy” with the B-1’s Augmenter Fuel Pump Filter Housing. As a “precautionary measure,” AFGSC boss Gen. Timothy M. Ray directed inspections on all B-1s to resolve the issue, AFGSC said in an April 23 statement.
“After further analysis, the commander stood down the fleet because it was determined a more invasive inspection was needed to ensure the safety of aircrews,” the command said.
Individual aircraft will return to flight following the in-depth inspection when they are deemed safe to fly.
“The Air Force takes all incidents seriously and works diligently to identify and correct potential causes,” the command said.
The stand down comes about two years after the B-1 fleet was grounded, that time because of problems with drogue chutes in the aircraft’s ejection seats. The fleet was also grounded in 2018 for separate ejection seat problems.
The B-1 fleet in recent years has faced readiness issues because of prolonged use in combat operations in the Middle East—at one point, the aircraft’s mission capable rate was about 10 percent. AFGSC has said the fleet’s readiness has turned around thanks to increased maintenance, and this recent fuel issue does not appear related to the structural issues that had been plaguing the fleet. The stand down was first reported by The War Zone.