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Environmental Control System Failure on Growler Freezes the Cockpit In Flight

Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:19 am

This is a pretty spectacular environmental control system failure for a Growler, to cause it to be spraying liquid inside the cockpit which coated the canopy and the flight instruments in a layer of ice, leaving the crew effectively blind to the world:

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/18 ... rt-watches

The EA-18G, assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (VX-9), was flying at approximately 25,000 feet on a mission from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, between Seattle and Vancouver BC, when the cockpit temperature plummeted to -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

The broken environmental control system (ECS) also let in a fine mist of liquid, which then froze, coating the inside of the canopy and vital flight instruments in an opaque sheen of ice. The ECS consists of a number of sub-components that are supposed to work together to manage oxygen flow to the crew, as well as cockpit pressure and temperature.

Despite using up all of their emergency oxygen supply, the crew was able to wend its way its way back to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island with help from air traffic controllers on the ground and their smart watches.


Both the pilot and the electronics warfare officer are fine, but they both suffered frostbite injuries to their hands.

No doubt the Navy is going to want to investigate this as this is a serious malfunction that could have lead to a loss of the jet, combined with another reported instance of a Growler that had the cockpit pressure spike after a malfunction in the environmental control system. This caused the canopy to explode, and injuries to the crew in the form of one having a collapsed lung, and the other a traumatic head injury. Thankfully, the canopy exploded while the aircraft was on the ground, and there were some Air Force Reserve pararescuemen on base at the time.

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