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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 5/5/2002 8:53:03 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/5/2002 9:25:57 AM EDT by warlord]
Here are two follow-up artciles on the crash originally reported at [url]http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?id=110779[/url] ================================================================= Los Angeles Times: Gallegly Defends Navy Jet Program [url]http://www.latimes.com/editions/ventura/la-000031666may04.story?coll=la%2Deditions%2Dventura[/url] VENTURA COUNTY Gallegly Defends Navy Jet Program Military: Congressman meets with Point Mugu brass. He expresses confidence in upkeep procedures followed prior to air show crash. By MARGARET TALEV and TIMOTHY HUGHES TIMES STAFF WRITERS May 4 2002 After meeting with the command staff at Point Mugu Naval Air Station, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) said Friday he has no reason to believe that a fatal jet crash at the base's annual air show last month is linked to the aircraft's troubled maintenance division. "To a person, they said if they ever had a question about the flyability of these airplanes they would have been grounded," Gallegly said after an hourlong meeting with three top base officials in which they discussed staffing and management of the QF-4 jet squadron. "I have a tremendously high level of confidence in their leadership," Gallegly said. "The tougher questions I ask, the more confidence I have." During the briefing, the officers told Gallegly that a regularly scheduled audit of the maintenance program, conducted by the Naval Safety Center after the accident, showed the program in compliance with a checklist of procedures, he said. The audit began before the April 20 air show crash. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Norman, 39, of Camarillo and Marine Capt. Andrew Muhs, 31, were killed when their jet slammed into a marshy field in front of 25,000 spectators. The cause of the accident has not been determined. Gallegly said he was aware of some worker complaints within the QF-4 squadron, which have been driven mostly by staff reductions and gripes with supervisors. But he said he doesn't believe these problems have affected the safety of the squadron's flight crew. "Do I feel there's evidence to convince me that as a result of reductions in personnel that has compromised or will compromise the safety of the aircraft?" he said. "Based on the safety net I see, I don't believe the safety has been compromised at this installation as a result of that." Gallegly said he met with Capt. Mark Swaney, vice commander of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division; Capt. Mike Rabens, commander of Naval Test Wing Pacific; and Capt. Dave Madsen, commander of Naval Weapons Test Squadron Point Mugu. They did not discuss the Navy's independent investigation into the air show crash. Rather, their meeting focused on the overall operations of the QF-4 jet program, Gallegly said. Navy officials declined to comment about the meeting. -- continued --
Link Posted: 5/5/2002 8:55:22 AM EDT
The congressman's meeting came on the same day that the results of a month long survey of 20 maintenance workers at the base were turned over to Navy officials. The survey was prompted by recent reviews of the QF-4 squadron's maintenance division. The maintenance reviews "identified a significant number of performance deficiencies and safety discrepancies," a memo attached to the survey stated. "Because of this, the command is now faced with the difficult decision of determining whether the QF-4 maintenance group is capable of achieving the standards of performance for flight, aircraft availability and productivity that must be met to ensure its continued existence." The 23-question survey was distributed to flight crews in the days leading up to the air show crash. Questions covered everything from management and worker training to overall safety of the program. "What are some of the things that are preventing the QF-4 maintenance team from performing as well as it might?" was one question posed to employees in the survey, a copy of which was obtained by The Times. After employees filled out the questionnaire, Navy officials conducted follow-up interviews with them. Dissension and morale problems continue to hamper the QF-4's maintenance division, according to some workers who participated in the survey. The biggest complaint centers on poor management, said the workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Union officials who represent 120 civilian employees at the Ventura County Navy base said such a response shows that much remains to be done to correct problems within the squadron. John Hunter, local representative of the National Assn. of Government Employees, said civilian supervisors who took over the program last year were destined to have problems because they had little experience with the decades-old QF-4 mechanical systems. He noted that a 1999 federally mandated staff reduction program forced out or transferred experienced mechanics and eroded the morale of those who remained. "There is inexperience and a lack of respect for subordinates," Hunter said. Meanwhile, Navy officials have made a public appeal to spectators at the air show who may have photographed or videotaped the jet crash for copies of their film to assist in the investigation. * Photographs or videotape should be forwarded to NAVAR WD Public Affairs Office. Code 75000E/575 I Street, Suite 1, Point Mugu, CA 93042-5001. Phone: 989-1023. If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives. For information about reprinting this article, go to www.lats.com/rights.
Link Posted: 5/5/2002 8:56:41 AM EDT
Los Angeles Times: Base Workers Informed of Safety Issues Days Before Air Show Crash [url]http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-000030654apr30.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dcalifornia[/url] Base Workers Informed of Safety Issues Days Before Air Show Crash Accident: Navy officials surveyed the employees about problems with maintenance of the jet. By TIMOTHY HUGHES TIMES STAFF WRITER April 30 2002 Days before a fatal jet crash at the Point Mugu Air Show, Navy officials notified base employees that they had found "a significant number of performance deficiencies and safety discrepancies" in the aircraft's maintenance division. Last week, Navy officials said that similar problems uncovered in the QF-4 Phantom jet's maintenance program during a routine 1999 inspection had been corrected. The inspector's highly critical report warned of potential safety hazards. If problems are not addressed, the inspector said at the time, "they will have a devastating impact on the safety of air crew and aircraft worthiness in the future." Despite assurances that improvements had been made, Navy officials informed Point Mugu employees about continuing problems with the QF-4 jet program in a memo included in a worker survey distributed earlier this month. The survey included 23 questions that covered everything from worker skill levels and training to inquiries about the program's overall safety. "What are some of the things that are preventing the QF-4 maintenance team from performing as well as it might?" was one question posed to employees in the survey obtained by The Times. Another question: "What is your level of confidence that the work performed by QF-4 maintenance ensures the safety of the QF-4 crew members and aircraft?" After recent reviews, the survey stated, the base's command staff "is now faced with the difficult decision of determining whether the QF-4 maintenance group is capable of achieving the standards of performance for safety of flight, aircraft availability and productivity that must be met to ensure its continued existence," according to the memo. Navy officials confirmed Monday that an employee survey was conducted earlier this month at the Ventura County base, but said it was part of an ongoing financial and operations audit and was not solely focused on the QF-4 squadron's maintenance division. They declined further comment about the survey and the investigation. Meanwhile, Navy spokeswoman Cathy Partusch said the safety record of the QF-4 squadron is stellar, noting that the air show crash was the only in-flight accident the fleet has experienced in 118,000 hours logged in the air. There are 20-plus planes in the squadron. -- continued --
Link Posted: 5/5/2002 8:57:28 AM EDT
"The Navy is always looking to make sure that we do everything safely," Partusch said. "Safety is our No. 1 goal." Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) said Monday he sent a letter to Capt. Jim Rainwater, the base commander, requesting a meeting about allegations of problems with the QF-4 jet program. But Gallegly said he maintains complete confidence in Rainwater and other members of the base's command staff. "The fact that I sent a letter in no way means I want to impede on an impartial investigation into this tragedy," Gallegly said. "The purpose is to follow up on some serious allegations." Although the cause of the April 20 air show accident that killed two aviators has not been determined, investigators have not ruled out faulty maintenance, pilot error or mechanical malfunction. One civilian employee in the QF-4 hangar said Monday that the Navy's recent survey was not taken seriously because it only vaguely addressed safety concerns well-known among many in the squadron. The employee received the survey two days before the air show accident. "To me, it was just more smoke and mirrors," said the worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They still hadn't addressed the problem and here is another report. It was like, here they come again. They ask you all these questions and they want you to talk your heart out, but they don't do anything." The employee survey did not mention specific maintenance problems with the QF-4 jet program. Navy officials also reiterated that the survey was part of an ongoing audit and is not evidence of serious problems that could have led to the air show crash. They also pointed out that the jet involved in the accident was delivered to Point Mugu in February from the Naval Aviation Depot in North Carolina. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Norman, 39, of Camarillo and Marine Capt. Andrew Muhs, 31, who lived on the base, were killed when their jet wobbled out of control and slammed into a marshy field during the air show. Last week, two former Navy aircraft specialists said they warned officials last summer that the maintenance program for the Vietnam-era fighter jet was plagued with problems that could jeopardize the safety of air crews. Darrell Ellington, a mechanic on the QF-4 Phantoms, and Ken Okesson, a quality assurance specialist, said they made their concerns known to base officials in resignation letters and confidential exit interviews. Another Navy spokeswoman said last week that the Navy took the two workers' concerns seriously but that "there were no specific allegations cited upon which to act." Ellington and Okesson's warnings echoed the concerns of a Navy inspector who two years earlier issued a highly critical report of Point Mugu's civilian-operated QF-4 program. The report was part of a regular annual inspection. -- continued --
Link Posted: 5/5/2002 8:59:33 AM EDT
"The Navy is always looking to make sure that we do everything safely," Partusch said. "Safety is our No. 1 goal." Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) said Monday he sent a letter to Capt. Jim Rainwater, the base commander, requesting a meeting about allegations of problems with the QF-4 jet program. But Gallegly said he maintains complete confidence in Rainwater and other members of the base's command staff. "The fact that I sent a letter in no way means I want to impede on an impartial investigation into this tragedy," Gallegly said. "The purpose is to follow up on some serious allegations." Although the cause of the April 20 air show accident that killed two aviators has not been determined, investigators have not ruled out faulty maintenance, pilot error or mechanical malfunction. One civilian employee in the QF-4 hangar said Monday that the Navy's recent survey was not taken seriously because it only vaguely addressed safety concerns well-known among many in the squadron. The employee received the survey two days before the air show accident. "To me, it was just more smoke and mirrors," said the worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They still hadn't addressed the problem and here is another report. It was like, here they come again. They ask you all these questions and they want you to talk your heart out, but they don't do anything." The employee survey did not mention specific maintenance problems with the QF-4 jet program. Navy officials also reiterated that the survey was part of an ongoing audit and is not evidence of serious problems that could have led to the air show crash. They also pointed out that the jet involved in the accident was delivered to Point Mugu in February from the Naval Aviation Depot in North Carolina. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Norman, 39, of Camarillo and Marine Capt. Andrew Muhs, 31, who lived on the base, were killed when their jet wobbled out of control and slammed into a marshy field during the air show. Last week, two former Navy aircraft specialists said they warned officials last summer that the maintenance program for the Vietnam-era fighter jet was plagued with problems that could jeopardize the safety of air crews. Darrell Ellington, a mechanic on the QF-4 Phantoms, and Ken Okesson, a quality assurance specialist, said they made their concerns known to base officials in resignation letters and confidential exit interviews. Another Navy spokeswoman said last week that the Navy took the two workers' concerns seriously but that "there were no specific allegations cited upon which to act." Ellington and Okesson's warnings echoed the concerns of a Navy inspector who two years earlier issued a highly critical report of Point Mugu's civilian-operated QF-4 program. The report was part of a regular annual inspection. -- continued --
Link Posted: 5/5/2002 9:10:29 AM EDT
The inspector's evaluation of the QF-4's quality assurance program cited major problems with auditing procedures, maintenance record keeping and overall management. Maintenance is "beginning to demonstrate tendencies of straying from the straight and narrow paths required ... to ensure safe and efficient aircraft," Lt. Cmdr. Gary Green wrote in his report. Green noted that he was especially concerned about poor record keeping in the QF-4 maintenance division. "The neglect of this area over the past months has resulted in a combination of discrepancies that if not corrected could lead to possible loss of life, equipment and weapon systems." If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives. For information about reprinting this article, go to www.lats.com/rights.
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