The U.S. Air Force has finished examining cartridge actuated devices (CADs) on Martin-Baker Mk16-US16E ejection seats for most of the service’s 349 Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35A fighters and has given the go-ahead for a resumption of flight.
“The Air Force has completed the Time Compliance Technical Directive on all F-35 ejection seat initiator cartridges, with a few exceptions, and all aircraft have resumed normal operations,” Air Combat Command (ACC) said in an Aug. 15 email. “Across the Air Force, technicians inspected a total of 706 cartridges, which came from a majority of the Air Force’s 349 F-35s as well as additional supply. Four cartridges were found to be suspect and have been replaced. Those four suspect cartridges have since undergone further inspection and were determined compliant.”
Each ejection seat has two CADs.
On July 19, ACC began the Time Compliance Technical Directive (TCTD) to inspect the CADs in the next three monhs (Defense Daily, Aug. 1). ACC said that it began a temporary stand-down of its 113 F-35As “to expedite the inspection process.”
Some F-35As “have not been inspected yet because they are going through the depot, so those aircraft will be inspected within the TCTD’s 90-day compliance period or before their next flight,” ACC said.
On Aug. 1, the F-35 Joint Program Office said that more than 90 percent of the inspections on Marine Corps ejection seat CADs were complete and that the Navy had completed its inspections.
“In general, the issue affected a relatively small number of seats,” the F-35 JPO said on Aug. 1. “However, every seat matters. This issue is getting the highest priority.”
At the time, the F-35 JPO said that aircraft operations “have been continuing with little to no impact from the seat cartridge issue.”
The CAD defect surfaced during routine maintenance of an F-35A ejection seat at Hill AFB, Utah in April.
The Cartridge Actuated Device/Propellant Actuated Device (CAD/PAD) Joint Program Office at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division in Maryland supplies the U.S. military with the devices for ejection seats.
In July, the Navy and Marine Corps said that Martin-Baker had notified the services of potentially defective CADs on Boeing [BA] F/A-18B/C/D Hornets and F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, T-45 Goshawks and Northrop Grumman [NOC] F-5 Tiger II trainers (Defense Daily, July 28). The Department of the Navy said that it has used “validated radiography procedures” to scan on-hand inventory to verify replacement CAD parts were made correctly before starting to send them out to the fleet. If not, the department said that it is replacing the CAD.