C-27J Spartans Grounded.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has decided to ground several of its C-27J Spartans after the discovery of structural cracking in these aircraft. This move follows the US Coast Guard’s decision to suspend the use of all 14 of its Spartans, citing the presence of cracks of varying degrees. The US Coast Guard stated that their Spartans would remain grounded until a thorough evaluation could be completed.
The manufacturer, Leonardo, had previously issued an Alert Service Bulletin instructing operators, including the RAAF and US Coast Guard, as well as the military forces of Italy, Mexico, and other nations, to inspect for cracks near the attachment points of the horizontal and vertical stabilizers to the fuselage.
A spokesperson for the Australian Defence said that the Royal Australian Air Force had initiated inspections on its C-27J fleet and identified similar structural issues. Aircraft found to have cracking will not be flown until a comprehensive engineering assessment has been conducted.
Leonardo issued a statement reassuring that the problem is fixable and should have minimal impact on operations. The manufacturer has already identified a repair solution, which can be implemented at customer premises by the operators without requiring significant effort. Leonardo emphasized that the reported issue is not expected to affect planned aircraft operations.
As of now, Australia operates 10 C-27J Spartans through No. 35 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley. This squadron primarily focuses on peacetime operations such as search and rescue and aeromedical missions. The RAAF initially acquired the C-27J as a replacement for the Caribou, intending to fill the gap between the Chinook and the larger Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft.