Possible structural failures cause grounding of US Navy anti-submarine planes

39 anti-submarine surveillance planes were grounded due to possible structural failures in the wings.

Ten of the four-engine P-3C Orion propeller planes will be returned to the United States for repairs. It has not been determined how or if they would be replaced.

The Navy has 161 Orions, with an average age of 28 years. Repair of each plane will require 18-24 months, about three years in all to complete the process. Those that cannot be repaired will be pulled from service.

The Orions are some of the oldest aircraft the Navy has, and they are set to be replaced in coming years by the new P-8A Poseidon jet plane. Poseidons are expected to be operational in the Navy fleet in 2019.

The 39 were chosen due to age, number of hours flown and other computer analyses that showed they had exceeded the amount of fatigue on the wings that the Navy considered a problem.

The Naval Air Systems Command issued a bulletin announcing the grounding on Monday, saying it was determined that the 39 aircraft were "beyond known structural limits on the lower section" of the wing.

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