Skip to comments.Deceased pilot’s widow sues USAF over faulty ejection seat.
Posted on 09/17/2022 8:47:07 AM PDT by pterional
First Lt. David Schmitz, an F-16 pilot at South Carolina’s Shaw Air Force Base, died 30 June 2020, when his ejection seat malfunctioned as he tried to punch-out during a failed nighttime landing. He was 32. An Air Force investigation of the incident revealed that key components of the ejection seat may have been counterfeit
(Excerpt) Read more at aero-news.net ...
I withdraw my skepticism.
In my opinion.
The headline is a bit misleading. You can’t maintain something if you don’t have replacement parts. That being said, I wonder why the pilot had so much difficulty landing that he decided to punch out?
The widow Schmitz and her lawyers hope to learn through the legal discovery process whether the aforementioned components were proven counterfeit and the information concealed by the USAF. The plaintiffs also question whether the Air Force had met its own standards of reliability insomuch as the USAF Safety Center recommended in 2012 that sequencers of the type suspected to have failed in Lt. Schmitz’s ejection seat be replaced with more reliable hardware. Delays in replacing subject sequencers resulted in the Air Force continuing to use them longer than intended—long enough, in fact, for the specimen in Schmitz’s F-16 to fail.
In point of fact, Schmitz’s seat—owing to an acknowledged shortage of spare parts—had not been serviced in three-years. Notwithstanding implicit knowledge that doing so could result in fatality, the Air Force neglected to adequately maintain the ejection seats in its aircraft—so reported Military.com.
A 100 million settlement would get their attention. The defects were known and hidden.
I met a plaintiff lawyer who claimed to have got a big pay-day for a case like this. He was really proud of himself.
Counterfeit = manufacturer negligence,not AF negligence.
Every part, every bolt in a military aircraft is supposed to have parts documented as to their origin as part of the “mil spec”. Someone, somewhere was cutting corners and substituting uncertified parts.
And whoever did that should be given a fair trial and then publicly shot at dawn when found guilty. As an example to anyone else in the supply chain who might be tempted.
I often wonder how many critical parts in commericial airplanes are just about to go bad. Chinese pos parts
Suing the U.S. government (sovereign immunity) is a very difficult task.
I pray she wins.
Previously uncertified parts, recovered, recycled or remanufactured can become certified a the stroke of a pen. Unfailed timed out components can become timed in instantly.
They are. Shortages and budget constraints can make things happen that shouldn’t and do.
Counterfeit = China
Joe knows nothing Hunter not talking.
The component in question is the recovery sequencer. It does exactly what it’s name implies. It sequences the recovery once the seat leaves the aircraft. The egress troops in the field do not open this device.
Evidently there were electronic components inside the recovery sequencer on this particular seat that did not meet requirements. It sounds to me that this particular seat was delivered with the faulty RS, or, faulty components were pt in the RS during depot level maintenance. No front line maintainers or aircrew had any reason to doubt it’s integrity.
In this particular case, the pilot ejected from the aircraft successfully, but the recovery sequencer failed. He never separated from the seat and died on impact with the ground.
“It seems to me that the AF would have something resembling “sovereign immunity” in cases like this.”
She is suing the makers. But before the NTSB is done with this a lot of fingers will be pointing at someone. According to the article, due to what is said to be a lack of parts, the seat hadn’t been service in years. And the installation is not available in the article to mention who put it together before it was delivered. It could have come with the parts to be installed when it made it to the AF.
Thankfully these seats are not used very often so it would be possible that the seat would never be called upon before the aircraft was retired. And God knows how many Falcons will have to be grounded for inspection, determination of having the same situation, and if found, where else they will have to look in the aircraft for other possible problems all over the world.
My problems are after the fact. There is mention of faulty workmanship, counterfeit chips, lack of servicing, a possible outdated system as it could have been upgraded already, and a lack of follow up that should have been accomplished to find these problems at all levels.
I have no idea what the crew chief or mechanics on the aircraft had to gain by pencil whipping as the chips that were counterfeit won’t exactly fit a Studebaker. And I don’t see the advantage of the new crew coming in when the old ones went pcs as this could have changed crews a number of times with deployments, sorties, and separations. We aren’t seeing something and by the way everyone is clamming up, they may all have been aware of it. It may be interesting.
“That being said, I wonder why the pilot had so much difficulty landing that he decided to punch out?”
I’m not a pilot but that was strange.
32y/o 1 lt. There’s a story there.
This guy deserved to have the contracted parts in his aircraft, and his aircraft to have had the standard maintenance. I hope that this lawsuit saves other pilots lives, because I doubt it’s only one ejector seat.
Generally speaking, the service member can’t sue the government, but the family members can.
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