Air Force Global Strike Command announced Thursday it has grounded the entire B-1 fleet due to safety concerns, marking the second time in a year that the long range conventional bomber has been stood down over issues with its ejection seats.
The first stand down occurred after a worrisome failed ejection last year. All of the crew survived that incident and were awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for their efforts to get the plane safely down in Midland, Texas.
This time, it was over concerns with the B-1′s drogue chute system, which corrects the seat’s angle to allow an airman to safely depart the bomber.
“During a routine inspection of the B-1B drogue chute system, potentially fleet-wide issues were identified with the rigging of the drogue chute,” the Air Force said.
“It appears to be a procedural issue and is unrelated to the previous problem with egress system components. As a precautionary measure, the commander directed a holistic inspection of the entire egress system. The safety stand-down will afford maintenance and aircrew flight equipment technicians the necessary time to thoroughly inspect each aircraft," Global Strike Command said.
“As these inspections are completed and any issues are resolved, aircraft will return to flight.”
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."