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68 B-1B Bombers Grounded for Ejection Tests After Fatal Crash

October 07, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Air Force today grounded its new B-1B bombers for a brief inspection of the crew-ejection system prompted by the investigation of a Sept. 28 crash in which three airmen died.

The service's Strategic Air Command said all 68 of the planes would be grounded until the two-hour inspection is performed. The inspections were beginning today.

The command said the inspection was "an outgrowth of the Sept. 28 accident" but refused to elaborate.

It was reported last week that the Air Force, in investigating the crash at a Colorado training range, was trying to determine why only three of the six crewmen on the plane ejected from the crippled aircraft after it ran into a flock of birds.

Sources said at the time that the Air Force was concerned because, based on initial reports, it appeared that at least four and possibly all the crewmen should have been able to bail out safely.

Three crewmen did eject from the plane and survived with only minor injuries, but the other three went down with the plane.

The issue is a particularly sensitive one for the Air Force because when a B-1B carries six men--as it does on training flights--instead of its normal crew of four, two of them face a more difficult time escaping a damaged plane.

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