The U.S. Air Force grounded its fleet of C-27J cargo planes after one aircraft experienced mechanical failure on July 3. (Sgt. Daniel Schroeder / U.S. Air Force)
The U.S. Air Force has grounded its fleet of C-27J cargo planes after an aircraft experienced a mechanical failure in part of its flight controls during a training sortie last week.
Air Force officials at the plane’s program office in Ohio ordered the grounding following the July 3 incident, which it is calling a “flight control problem,” according to a written statement provided by an Air Force spokeswoman. The Air Force has ordered an investigation into the incident.
“This is a precautionary measure while the Air Force and C-27J industry team investigates the incident,” the statement said. “The program office is working with the C-27J prime contractor, L-3 Communications, and the aircraft manufacturer, Alenia Aermacchi, to resolve the matter as quickly as possible, and return the C-27J fleet to normal flight operations.”
It is unclear how long the fleet will be grounded but is expected to be resolved within one to two weeks for those specific aircraft shown to exhibit similar issues.
Officials are examining parts of the aircraft’s flight-control surfaces, parts on the wings that control the aircraft’s altitude.
The Air National Guard is the only U.S. military operator of the aircraft; however, other countries, including Italy, Greece, Lithuania and Romania, operate the plane.
After the incident in the United States, industry issued a bulletin to all militaries that fly the C-27J and its predecessor, the G.222, to perform inspections on their aircraft.
The incident comes just three weeks after the Air Force removed C-27Js from combat operations in Afghanistan. That move was unrelated to last week’s incident and is part of an Air Force proposal to cancel the program and retire the 21 already purchased aircraft for budgetary reasons.
Retiring the aircraft has been strongly opposed by the Air National Guard, states governors and members of Congress. Legislation under consideration in the House and Senate has recommended freezing Air Force plans to retire C-27J.
In combat, the C-27J is used to ferry supplies and equipment to ground troops. Stateside, it could be used to assist during natural disasters.