U.S. Coast Guard Grounds Fleet of C-27J Aircraft

The entire fleet of 14 medium range surveillance aircraft have ‘cracks of varying degrees,’ the Coast Guard said.

The C-27J Spartan medium range surveillance aircraft CGNR 2711 sits on the tarmac at Air Station Sacramento, California. [Courtesy: U.S. Coast Guard]

The U.S. Coast Guard has grounded its fleet of C-27J Spartan fixed wing surveillance aircraft following a call by manufacturer Leonardo directing operators to inspect for cracks.

The medium range surveillance aircraft are used to perform disaster response, drug and migrant interdictions, and search and rescue missions.

"In response to an issue reported by a C-27J operator, as a preventive measure, Leonardo has requested all C-27J Users to perform a one-time inspection," the company said. 

The Alert Service Bulletin issued by Leonardo calls for inspections looking for cracks in the area where the horizontal and vertical stabilizers attach to the aircraft's fuselage. 

The bulletin prompted the service to ground its fleet of 14 C-27Js for inspections. All of the service's aircraft were found to have cracks "of varying degrees," a Coast Guard spokesperson told FLYING.

"We are currently assessing our aviation force laydown to address the stand down of these airframes," the spokesperson said. "The Coast Guard is currently investigating the issue and continues to engage with the manufacturer and global users on a path forward. The aircraft will remain grounded until a thorough evaluation is completed, and any issues are addressed. The safety of our aviators remains our top priority as we continue to address this very important matter."

A fix is already in the works, according to the manufacturer.

"In order to mitigate any impacts on aircraft operations, Leonardo has already identified a repair solution in case an issue is actually detected," Leonardo said. "The implementation of such repair can be performed at customer premises by the Operators and does not require significant effort. The reported issue is therefore not expected to affect planned aircraft operations."

The Coast Guard's fleet of C-27Js previously belonged to the U.S. Air Force, and are equipped with weather radar and communications equipment. The aircraft first entered service at Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, California in 2017.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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