Pentagon says F-35B engine issue caused by quality of parts

WASHINGTON Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:29pm EST

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WASHINGTON Jan 28 (Reuters) - The Pentagon's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program office on Monday said quality control problems were the probable cause of a fuel line failure that resulted in the grounding of the Marine Corps variant of the new F-35 fighter jet on Jan. 18.

Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the program, said the Pentagon was working with the Navy to resume flight operations of the new warplane, which can take off from shorter runways and lands like a helicopter. No timetable was given for resumption of training and test flights.

He said the investigation ruled out any design or maintenance problems, but revealed a "quality discrepancy" from the company that builds the fuel line in question. Six additional fuel lines had been removed from the planes and needed to be replaced, he said.

A unit of Parker Hannifin supplies the fuel lines and other parts to Britain's Rolls Royce, which builds the engine together with Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. Both Rolls and Pratt were taking steps to beef up their quality control processes, he said.

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