A quite unusual accident occurred on board USS Truman in the Virginia Capes, where the supercarrier is involved in CARQUAL (Carrier Qualification) activity.
A source who talked to NavyTimes revealed that two Hawkeyes on the flight deck, chocked and chained with their wings folded up, hit each other. The accident occurred as one of the wings on an E-2 hit the other’s nearby propeller for unknown reasons. No one was hurt as no one was on board either plane but it’s unclear whether the aircraft are airworthy.
For sure, recent images of the Truman at sea involved in the onboard testing of the X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator, show an almost empty flight deck, with no E-2.
X-47B’s testing schedule was not affected by the mishap according to the source contacted by the Navy Times.
Image credit: U.S. Navy
What’s weird is an uncommanded wing unfold. Aircraft designed to operate on aircraft carriers have a fold/unfold system which uses on hydraulic cylinders in each wing to move wing sections and save space on the flight deck.
Hydraulic pressure in the cylinders and safety pins should prevent uncommanded wing fold/unfold.
Safety pins can be forgotten or intentionally left out, and otherwise the system has to be designed so that a hydraulic failure will unfold the wing, as an uncommanded unfolding on deck isn’t quite as dangerous as an uncommanded folding in flight.
Perhaps more is going on on the Truman than we know…
Maybe what they left out was that as the UCAS was taxi-ing the deck it “glanced” the E-2, and caused a chain reaction. Whom is the CQ for, Hawkeye or UCAS? But I’m just speculating.
E-2C aircraft do not have safety pins for wing fold and it was technically an uncommanded wing droop due the wing not hydraulically locking on the jury strut. Once the aircraft shut down losing hydraulic pressure caused the stbd wing to droop into the port prop of the plane next to it. I know this because I was standing in front of the plane that dropped and was part of the mishap investigation. It was a mechanical failure and please learn more about the specific aircraft before assuming.