UPDATED: Frank Kendall Says Decisions Coming Soon on Farnborough Flights
FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW: An official statement from the Pentagon is on the way but I can confirm that the order grounding the F-35 fleet has been lifted and the pilots waiting on 24-hour standby may well be scrambling fo their planes as I type.
Just in: the statement from Rear Adm. John Kirby:
“Yesterday the air worthiness authorities for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force approved the F-35 fleet to return to flight. This is a limited flight clearance that includes an engine inspection regimen and a restricted flight envelope which will remain in effect until the root cause of the June 23 engine mishap is identified and corrected.”
“We remain hopeful that the F-35 can make an appearance at the Farnborough airshow. This information is an encouraging step, but no final decision has been made at this time.
“Safety remains the overriding priority. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”
The air worthiness authorities, NAVAIR and the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center, lifted the order after all 98 engines were inspected and found free of similar damage to that caused when “excessive rubbing” caused a turbine blade to break catastrophically and sparked a raging fire as an F-35A took off from Eglin Air Force Base on June 23.
A final decision about ordering the planes to fly to Farnborough had not been made as I wrote this. But a very well informed source told me a few minutes ago that the flights are “likely.”
UPDATE: Frank Kendall, head of Pentagon acquisition, told me in a video interview this afternoon that a number of operational and policy decisions need to be made today about whether and how to get the F-35Bs here but he was “hopeful.” UPDATE ENDS