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29 Nov, 2019 18:35

Tough luck, Aussies! Pentagon won’t compensate Australia for faulty Boeing fighter jet that went AFLAME on takeoff

Tough luck, Aussies! Pentagon won’t compensate Australia for faulty Boeing fighter jet that went AFLAME on takeoff

The Australian taxpayer will foot the bill for a $85 million (AUS$125 mn) Growler fighter jet that burst into flames on the runway due to an engine fault. The US Navy will not reimburse Australia for the “dud” warplane.

Boeing’s engineering woes are not limited to the civilian field. Before design flaws sent two of the Seattle firm’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft diving into the ground, before the company was accused of carrying out shoddy work on its flagship 787 Dreamliner, and before the fuselage of its upcoming 777X failed critical pressure testing in September, one of Boeing’s military aircraft also suffered a dramatic mishap.

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Boeing EA-18G Growler aircraft burst into flames while attempting takeoff during a joint exercise with the US Air Force in Nevada last January. As the plane’s pilot gunned it down the runway at full power, a high-pressure compressor inside one of the engines broke into three pieces, which tore the jet to pieces as they exploded out of the engine housing. The airplane came to a halt engulfed in fire and beyond salvage.

Since the crash, the Australian government has tried to claim compensation from the US Navy for the loss of the $85 million plane. The faulty Growler was one of 12 purchased from Washington in 2017.

However, the Navy has refused to pay the bill. Air Vice Marshal Greg Hoffman told an Australian Senate Estimates Committee meeting on Friday that the US “position is there is no compensation.” 

While Australia’s working Joe may seethe at the idea of paying for a defective jet from the US, Hoffman told the committee that the US Navy would itself have no recourse with Boeing if one of its own Growlers suffered the same fate. In short, the buck stops the moment a jet leaves Boeing’s assembly line.

“In the aircraft industry there’s a lot of self-insurance that goes on and so the owner and operator holds the liability for the airplane,” he explained.

“It has been a difficult lesson,” Deputy Defense Secretary Tony Fraser added, telling the committee that his department would review all of its contracts in response. 

Also on rt.com Stress test for Boeing’s new 777X model tore massive hole in fuselage, released images suggest

Some lawmakers were taken aback. “How do we get to a point where we have bought an aircraft … and only then do we delve into the contract to find out what our rights are?” Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick asked.

The Australian taxpayer will also be hit with a $152 billion (AUS$225 bn) bill for the country’s new fleet of attack submarines, a Navy official told lawmakers at the Friday meeting. The cost of the 12 French-designed subs were estimated at AUS$50 billion three years ago, and has since crept up to $80 billion, plus $145 billion to “sustain, update, and upgrade” the vessels until their end of service in 2080.

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