The U.S. Air Force temporarily keeps a large part of its fleet of F-35 fighter aircraft grounded. A possible defect in the firing seats in those aircraft could endanger pilots.
According to a spokeswoman, this is a precautionary measure. The possible fault would be with blast cartridges that shoot seats out of the cockpit in an emergency. The ejection seats must now be inspected within ninety days and that is faster when aircraft are grounded.
It is still unclear how many of the fighter jets should remain on the ground. The US Department of Defense currently has 450 F-35 aircraft in service, but not all of them are from the Air Force component that decided to keep them on the ground.
The shooting seats for the American F-35s come from the supplier Martin-Baker. That company says the defect came to light in april at a U.S. Air Force Base. After that, a “gap in the production process” would have been found and remedied.