by JANIS REID, Whidbey News-Times Staff Reporter
May 7, 2014 at 12:44PM
Touch-and-gos at Outlying Field Coupeville were cancelled and all air operations at Ault Field were grounded for a few hours Friday. Navy leadership ordered a tactical pause after an aircraft crashed off the coast of Texas.— Image Credit: Janis Reid/Whidbey News-Times
Cancellation of this past Friday’s touch-and-go practices at Outlying Field Coupeville was the result of a “tactical pause” ordered Navy wide after a crash off the coast of Texas.
All Navy aircraft were grounded for a few hours after a T-34C crashed into the Gulf of Mexico Thursday. Though the pilots were unharmed, the accident marked the Navy’s eighth Class A Mishap to occur since January and the third in the previous 18 days, Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, spokesman for Naval Air Forces, said Tuesday.
Vice Adm. David Buss, head of Naval Air Forces, issued a message Thursday grounding all planes and squadrons except those deployed or underway. Though commanders were given latitude as to the length of the pause, most flights were expected to stay grounded for at least a few hours, Stephens said.
At Ault Field on North Whidbey, each individual squadron paused operations and conducted a safety stand down after which they resumed air operations, according Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Public Affairs Officer Mike Welding.
During the pause, squadrons were expected to review incident reports and other relevant information to ensure that all safety measures are being followed.
“Given the trend, we want to make sure we’re not making the same mistakes that we have in the past and mitigating further accidents,” Stephens said.
There were 10 total mishaps since this fiscal year began Oct. 1, Stephens said. Among them was a Class A Mishap involving an NAS Whidbey-based EA-6B Prowler that crashed in Eastern Washington in March 2012. Class A Mishaps are the most serious category of accident, involving loss of an aircraft, any fatality or permanent disability or more than $2 million in damages.”
Among the 10, there is roughly an even split between human causal factors in our cockpits and during maintenance in our hangar bays and we can all learn from the information in the (safety investigation reports),” Buss said.In total, the incidents resulted in more than $250 million in damage, according to the Navy Times.