F-35 Lightning II, Kicks up a Glitch Storm

F-35 Lightning II, Kicks up a Glitch Storm


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F-35 Lightning II, Kicks up a Glitch Storm

The U.S. Aerospace Jet Aircraft Industry has been getting punched in the nose of late, with the grounding of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the threat of cutbacks as a result of the sequestration.  As if it could not get any worse, it has, but what does it all mean?

A report that somehow has leaked from the Pentagon revealed that the flaws and technical malfunctions that comes with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II fighter jet is no small matter. According to the report, conducted by 5 avionic experts from the pentagon, the F-35 Lighting II fighter jet had 13 serious glitches.

  1. Roll Port Nozzles: the F-35 B jump jet uses engine bleed air to control roll during low speed and hover. Actuators in wings that rotate nozzles overheat, limiting the time that the aircraft is able to fly at speeds lesser than 100Kph
  2. Driveshaft: The gauging of the driveshaft had returned results that were unacceptable pertaining to compression and expansion.
  3. Lift Fan Clutch: The clutch plates have contact points that generate excessive heat that is beyond the permissible temperature limits.
  4. Auxiliary inlet doors: The hinge system that holds the auxiliary door is found to be unreliable or unstable at speeds exceeding the 460Kph barrier.
  5. Bulk Head 496: Cracks have been observed on the load bearing alloy bulkhead
  6. Cockpit: The large headrest designed for the comfort of the pilot to accommodate ergonomics, impedes the rear visibility of the pilot.
  7. Stealth coating: The stealth coating of the plane are found to peel off from horizontal tail surfaces at its maximum speed of 1960Kph – Mach 1.6
  8. Fuel Tanks: Threat of lightning induced fuel system explosions has rendered the aircraft useless to fly within 40Km radius of a thunderstorm, making it quite useless in the tropics where thunderstorms are frequent and scattered.
  9. Vertical Lift Bring Back (VLBB): Increased weight of F 35B has resulted in providing insufficient thrust to land in a vertical manner, without having to jettison the proper amount of weapons or fuel.
  10. Helmet mounted display: There have been issues with night vision pertaining to delays in data being displayed, jitter in the display stream and at some points, flickering occurs. A greenish tint or glow has also been observed at the edges of the visor.

Source: Derived from PENTAGON EVALUATION REPORT, Flight global Defense News – The Star

The plane which is costs an approximately two hundred and thirty million dollars each has fallen way beyond expectations as avionics experts in engineering scrambled to reconcile the glitches. According to an un-named source, the F-35 Lightning Jet Fighter has been procured by eleven nations around the world. The Joint Strike Fighter program has cost almost 400 billion dollars from the military budget. The whole scenario defies the old adage that “lightning never strikes the same spot twice”, in this case, it has been more than a dozen times!

On another note on glitches, the Federal Aviation Administration has approved the test flights conducted for the grounded Boeing 787 Dream liners with prototype versions of the battery fix. The Boeing 787 was grounded worldwide due to a short circuit that started a fire on a packed 787 at Boston’s Logan Airport and another incident when smoke originating from a battery on a 787, forced it to make an emergency landing. Grounding of the dream liners caused chaos worldwide when thousands of flights were cancelled, especially for All Nippon Airways (ANA), the world’s biggest operator of the plane.

US regulators gave Boeing the green light on Tuesday for its plan for the 787 batteries and agreed for them to carry out the test flight with the prototype battery fix. The federal aviation administration approved the Boeing Commercial Airplane’s Company’s certification plan for the redesigned 787 battery system and its plan to demonstrate the system, with assurances that it would meet all FAA requirements.

Japanese airline operators were applauding the decision by the regulators with the hope of resuming their flight operations as soon as possible. The recent spate of technical glitches due to batteries has been triggering questions from consumer groups who are beginning to think that there is a ‘reason behind the battery issues’, not realizing that the incidences are purely coincidental and isolated. Nevertheless, battery engineers have taken the issues into serious consideration.

What it all means is simple:  I believe that if someone is not making mistakes, they aren’t making anything.  In other words, mistakes are the result of attempts at progress.  Every great innovation in any industry, the aircraft industry included, has resulted in some problems to be solved.  These latest problems with the Boeing 787 and the F-35 Lighting II fighter jet only demonstrate that our aerospace engineers are moving in the right direction.

Fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft (Photo credit: paride de carlo)
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