Rush to Complete Maintenance Costs the Navy Big Sum of Money

A dozen Rolls-Royce turbine engines needed to be replaced after mechanics’ error.

E-2C Hawkeye
Six E-2C twin-turboprop Hawkeyes were put out of commission after it was learned the engine oil was changed improperly in the aircraft.Department of Defense

The Navy recently proved that rushing through aircraft maintenance work could result in expensive consequences. Imagine a mistake multiplied by 12, as the service did when six E-2C twin-turboprop Hawkeye early warning aircraft were put out of commission just a few days before they were expected to leave port.

The Hawkeyes belong to Airborne Early Warning Squadron 12, based in Norfolk, Virginia, and were preparing to deploy with the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group from Norfolk on January 21. The January 19 incident, labeled Class A by the Navy, a category normally reserved for fatal accidents, occurred after a number of aircraft mechanics improperly changed the engine oil in all six airplanes.

Following the hurried maintenance efforts, all 12 of the improperly serviced Rolls-Royce T56 engines had to be replaced before the E-2s were ready to deploy with the carrier group. While the cost to replace a dozen engines was not made public by the Navy, the price of a new E-2C runs about $80 million.

Following the maintenance incident, the Navy would only say, “The squadron is fully capable of performing its mission providing all-weather airborne early warning, battle management, and command and control functions for the aircraft carrier strike group.”