Canopy involved in Growler mishap on NAS Whidbey

A malfunction in the environmental control system of an E/A-18G Growler led to an on-deck emergencythat seriously injured two aircrew and damaged the aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Friday.

The pilot and electronic warfare officer from Electronic Attack Squadron 132 were airlifted by an NASWhidbey Search and Rescue helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Both were in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital Monday with one listed in critical condition and theother in serious condition.

The Navy is not releasing the names.

The accident occurred during a training exercise on the flight line at about 11 a.m. The Navy suspendedall flight operations involving Growlers and F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, which share common aircraftsystems.

An investigation by Naval Air Systems Command and Boeing engineers identified several factors thatlikely contributed to the mishap.

The Navy said Monday that, once individual squadrons were briefed and had incorporated mitigationmeasures, normal flight operations could resume that day.

The mishap involved a canopy failure of the aircraft, according to Mike Welding, public affairs officer atNAS Whidbey.

The aircrew was troubleshooting cabin pressurization issues when the canopy failed and was damaged,Welding said in an email.

“Engineers were able to determine that a combination of washing the aircraft prior to the flight, andfreezing temperatures contributed to the mishap,” Welding wrote.

“Mitigation measures have been put in place to avoid these conditions in the future. Ground emergencyprocedures were also updated and will be briefed to each crew that will help them identify and quicklyreact to avoid a similar situation as was experienced during Friday’s mishap.”

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