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Press Release
January 09, 2008
Kinglsey Field F-15s to fly Thursday
KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. – After more than two months of being grounded the F-15s from the 173d Fighter Wing will once again be back in the air starting Thursday morning.

The jets have been grounded since November 2 after an F-15 from the St Louis Air National Guard broke apart during flight and crashed. Since then all F-15 units around the country have been conducting a series of inspections to look for potential cracks that might have caused the St. Louis plane to come apart.

"It will be good to be back flying, getting the mission done," said Colonel Tom Schiess, 173 FW commander. "We have been utilizing our simulators everyday to keep students and instructors up to speed. However, nothing replaces getting in the jet."

Today's decision follows detailed information briefed on Friday to Air Combat Command from the Air Force's F-15 Systems Program Manager, senior engineers from Boeing and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, as well as a briefing received today from the Accident Investigation Board president.

The information included an analysis of the health of the Air Force's F-15 fleet from findings from the Nov. 2 mishap investigation, maintenance inspections and actions completed and taken to date as well as historical science and engineering trend data from F-15 fleet management.

Inspections are more than 90 percent complete for the entire F-15 fleet. Kingsley Field is 100 percent complete with all required inspections. Remaining inspections have primarily focused on the forward longerons. The longerons are a critical support structure.

"The 173d Fighter Wing has 25 jets in our inventory, but we currently have four F-15s that are released to fly on base tomorrow," said Colonel Schiess. "From here jets will be cleared to fly based on further engineering analysis. Four of the 25 aircraft here have cracked longerons that will require at least 6 months to repair."

Additionally, approximately 40 percent of inspected aircraft in the entire F-15 inventory have at least one longeron that does not meet blueprint specifications, Kingsley Field has 15 aircraft in this category. This is a problem caused 25 years ago when the aircraft were built, but is just now being realized with this accident.

Deviations in these longerons will be analyzed at the Warner Robbins Air Logistics Center. The analysis is expected to take approximately four weeks to complete. Once the analysis is complete, Air Combat Command will be able to better determine which aircraft will need further inspection, or repair, before returning them to flight.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Media is invited out to cover the first take-offs, Thursday, January 10. Please RSVP to Capt Lucas Ritter at 885-6198 by 4 p.m. today. Take-offs will be at 9:30 a.m. so media will need to be at the main gate at 8:45 a.m. to facilitate clearances.
Contact Info:
Capt Lucas Ritter