Ellsworth Air Force Base B1-B Lancer fleet grounded over safety issues

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 3:37 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The B1-B Lancer fleet at Ellsworth Air Force Base is grounded because of issues with part of the planes’ fuel system.

Gen. Tim Ray, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, indefinitely grounded the service’s 57 active Lancers amid safety concerns April 20 according to a command spokesperson.

“During the inspection process following a B-1B ground emergency on April 8 at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, a discrepancy with an augmenter fuel pump filter housing was discovered,” the command said. “As a precautionary measure, the commander directed one-time inspections on all B-1B aircraft to resolve this issue.”

According to Air Force Global Strike Command, the commander directed one-time inspections on all B-1B aircraft to resolve this issue. After further analysis, the commander stood down the fleet because it was determined a more invasive inspection was needed to ensure the safety of aircrews. Individual aircraft will return to flight when they are deemed safe to fly by Air Force officials.

The new inspection being developed will involve disassembly of the Augmenter Fuel Pump Filter Housing and inspection using the latest x-ray and blue light techniques. After it has been determined that the unit is free of defects, it will be reassembled, pressure checked, and returned to service.

It’s too early to determine how long the B1-B Lancer Fleet will be out of service. In addition to Ellsworth, B-1Bs are based at Dyess AFB, Texas, with a major maintenance shop at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. They no longer have a permanent presence in the Middle East, but still regularly fly to Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific.

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