The Navy's list of aircraft "Class A" mishaps is where you typically find crashes, collisions and cockpit fires. By definition, these mishaps involve either $2 million worth of damage or loss of human life. But the most recent Class "A" mishap is more mundane than most. It involves use of the wrong engine oil during maintenance, Navy officials say.
On Jan. 19, six E-2C "Hawkeye" aircraft engines belonging to three aircraft were damaged during the improper oil change, according to a statement provided to Military.com by Naval Air Force Atlantic. The aircraft, which have a distinctive rotating radar dome and are designed to land on and take off from aircraft carriers, are used for airborne early warning and command-and-control and cost about $80 million apiece new.
The aircraft damaged in the Jan. 19 mishap belong to Airborne Early Warning Squadron 12, out of Naval Station Norfolk Chambers field, Virginia. The incident was first reported by the Virginian-Pilot.
The engines affected by the improper servicing had to be replaced in a hurry, as the squadron was set to deploy with the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, which had its formal departure from Norfolk Jan. 21. The squadron did ultimately depart on time as part of Carrier Air Wing Eight aboard the Bush, officials said.
The cause of the incident remains under investigation. It's not yet clear if heads will roll as a result of the unfortunate mistake.
"The squadron is fully capable of performing its’ mission providing all-weather airborne early warning, battle management, and command and control functions for the aircraft carrier strike group and joint force commander," Cmdr. Dave Hecht, a spokesman for Naval Air Force Atlantic, said in a statement.