|U.S. Air Force/Lockheed
C-141B Starlifter transports have been cleared to return
to service after the left wing on one airplane collapsed
during refueling last Dec. 21, 2001 at Memphis (Tenn.)
International Airport. The incident sparked the
all 99 C-141Bs in U.S. Air Force inventory, but the
limitation was removed Dec. 23 when an initial
inspection by an engineering team from Warner Robbins
Air Logistics Center in Georgia determined the failure
was limited to that specific airplane. According to Col.
Russ Cotney, commander of the Memphis-based Air National
Guard's 164th Airlift Wing, the incident involved a
"human factors error" during the repair of an integral
fuel cell at the unit level. The aircraft had
accumulated about 39,000 hr. of flying time and had
undergone major depot inspection within the past two
years. The Air Force has begun a formal investigation
into the incident, which led to the spillage of 3,300
gal. of jet fuel and the slight injury of two airmen.
The four-engine jet was being fueled for a flight to
Ramstein AB, Germany, when the failure occurred. USAF is
phasing out Starlifters from active service and
replacing them with Boeing C-17s.