The Navy said on Tuesday that the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) placed the Navy and Marine Corps’ T-45C Goshawk fleet in a “safety pause” as they review an engine issue.
“Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our aviators, CNATRA made the decision to halt all T-45C Goshawk operations following the discovery of an engine blade failure,” CNATRA Rear Adm. Richard Brophy said in a statement.
The pause started on Oct. 14.
A Navy spokesperson told Defense Daily the issue was first discovered when a T-45C in Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, Texas “experienced a low-pressure compressor blade failure prior to takeoff Oct. 11.”
Specifically, pilots received abnormal engine indications alerting them before takeoff. The engine was then removed from the plane and sent to maintenance for further diagnosis, the spokesperson said.
“We are working with our partners toward a swift resolution. Safety is at the core of our operations, and we must not expose our pilots or aircraft to unnecessary risk,” Brophy added.
The Navy noted flight operations will stay paused until it can safety return the T-45 fleet to flying status.
Rear Adm. John Lemmon, Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs (PEO(T)), also said that the Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program Office, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Chief of Naval Air Training and Fleet Support Team “have been working around the clock with industry partner Rolls-Royce to identify the root cause of the recent T-45 engine blade failure.”
“Engineering analysis has been underway and will continue until we can safely return the T-45 fleet to a flying status to support CNATRA’s training,” Lemmon continued.
The spokesperson said it is too early to determine who will pay for any fixes because the engineering analysis is still ongoing. Rolls-Royce and the Navy offices are working to identify the root causes “and determine a way forward.”
Over 190 Boeing [BA]-built T-45C aircraft are used to help train Navy and Marine Corps jet aircraft pilots.
In August, the Navy awarded Rolls-Royce a $1.01 billion contract covering intermediate depot-level maintenance and associated logistics for about 210 in-service F405-RR-401 Adour engines used by the Boeing T-45C Goshawk trainer aircraft. The contract included individual orders that will in turn obligate specific funding from that overall amount (Defense Daily, Aug. 19).
This is not the first time an issue has come up related to T-45s. Notably, in August, a T-45C trainer crashed in Texas when approaching Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, with the instructor pilot successfully ejecting during a routine training flight. (Defense Daily, Aug. 17).
That came after a 2021 incident when two pilots were injured after ejecting from a T-45C assigned to the same air wing and station, also damaging several homes (Defense Daily, Sept. 24, 2021).
The spokesperson confirmed that while the August T-45C mishap is still under investigation, “none of the prior mishaps have been due to this type of engine blade fault.”