After meeting with the command staff at Point Mugu, 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.
"Based on the safety net I see, I don't believe the safety has been compromised at this installation as a result of that," he said.
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. Meanwhile, Navy officials have made a public appeal to spectators who may have photographed or videotaped the jet crash 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: (805) 989-1023.