Growler canopy exploded, injuring pilots

A Dec. 16 canopy explosion on an electronic warfare jet that seriously injured two crew members triggered the Navy’s temporary grounding of its entire fleet of Growler and Super Hornet jets, according to an initial report.

The Naval Safety Center has classified the incident at the Navy’s Whidbey Island air station near Seattle as a “Class A Mishap,” which refers to accidents that cause $2 million or more in damage or result in permanent and total disability to a crew member.

Although the damage to the Whidbey Island Growler is marked as $0 on the initial report, Naval Safety Center spokeswoman Margaret Menzies said investigators “have not assessed the total cost of the damage” and the probe continues.

The canopy explosion on a Boeing E/A-18G Growler assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 132 caused unspecified but serious injuries to both of its aircrew shortly before a scheduled 11 a.m. takeoff on Dec. 16 at the Puget Sound airfield.  

A Whidbey Island search and rescue helicopter raced the “Scorpions” crew to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment.

On Thursday, Lt. Cmdr. Jeanette D. Groeneveld, spokeswoman for Naval Air Forces, told The San Diego Union-Tribune that both pilots remain hospitalized.  The investigation continues, she said, adding that the Growler did not catch on fire following the explosion.

Because Boeing’s highly advanced Growlers and F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets rely on similar…

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