Ejection Seat Concerns Ground B-1 Bomber Fleet
The U.S. Air Force has grounded its fleet of B-1B Lancers after an ejection seat malfunction last month, forcing an emergency landing at Midland Airport in Texas.
The malfunction forced the pilots to try to land the plane from Dyess Air Force Base with a blown emergency hatch after one of the aircrew was unable to eject. The plane was not carrying weapons when it requested to land because of “an engine flameout.”
The safety stand-down, official language for the grounding of an aircraft type, will remain in effect until the issues are resolved, according to Air Force Global Strike officials.
This type-specific safety stand-down of the B-1B heavy bomber follows a one-day operational safety review ordered by USAF Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein directed to all Air Force wings with flying and maintenance functions
Images that appeared on Facebook showed tail number 86-0109 with a burnt-out engine and a missing a ceiling hatch. The unofficial Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page reported on May 21 that one of the bomber’s crew had tried to eject after an engine fire but his ejection seats malfunctioned.
While no official report has been issued surrounding the cause and specific events of the incident, the flight pilot in command and the crew are being hailed as “heroic” for saving the aircraft and the lives of all on board.
Nicknamed the “Bone”, the B-1B is a four-engine, supersonic, variable-geometry swept wing heavy bomber capable of Mach 1.2. The aircraft first flew in 1974, but was cancelled in 1977 during the Carter administration. The program was later restored under the Reagan administration in 1981.
It is in operational use with the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command and has been used extensively in the Global War on Terror. Expected to remain in service until the early 2030s, the B-1B is a critical part of the nation’s arsenal.