Thursday, October 2, 2014

Looks like a storm is brewing for the Typhoon...

Eurofighter Typhoon:  Limited to 1,500 hours?
As if a history of maintenance issues, parts availability, and high costs were not enough, it looks like the Eurofighter Typhoon has a new fly in its ointment.

Recently a "manufacturing fault" has resulted in Typhoon deliveries being put on hold.  On top of this, existing aircraft are now limited to a mere 1,500 flight hours.  This is a mere fraction of the 6,000-8,000 flight hours typical for medium-sized multirole fighters.  For reference, Canada's current CF-18 fleet is now pushing 6,000.

The Typhoon's problem seems to originate in the way parts of the fuselage are drilled for rivets.
BAE Systems and Britain’s RAF reportedly discovered that some of the rivet holes in the rear fuselage of the jet were drilled in ways that could introduce splinters and cracks into the rear fuselage, giving it less ability to resist wear and tear. That section is built by BAE, and tests are underway to get a more precise estimate of the effect on the fighter’s safe lifespan.

The Typhoon is a relatively new aircraft, so no aircraft need to be grounded.  None of the Typhoons currently in service expect to hit the 1,500 flight hour limit until 2018 or later, so there is plenty of time to look for a possible fix.

In the meantime, do not expect much in the line of purchase announcements.  Not many nations are willing to spend $100 million on fighter with a service life a fraction that of its competitors.  This could possibly spell the end of the line for the Typhoon's production run, which is slated to end in 2017.  

Hopefully the Eurofighter people can get this sorted out.

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