WASHINGTON – The Pentagon on Monday said it was shipping parts from an F-35 test plane back to their manufacturer, Honeywell International Inc, for a detailed inspection after a February 14 incident that caused a small amount of smoke in the plane's cockpit.
Kyra Hawn, spokeswoman for the $396 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, said an initial assessment of the incident at a Maryland air base showed it was isolated, software-related, and posed minimal risk. Interim changes had been implemented to prevent another smoke incident, she said.
News of the previously unreported incident comes just days after U.S. military officials grounded the entire fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 jets for the second time this year after discovering a 0.6 inch crack on a fan blade in the single jet of another test plane.
Honeywell builds the plane's "power thermal management system," which uses a lithium-ion battery similar to those whose failures have grounded Boeing Co's entire fleet of 787 airliners, but Hawn said there was no connection between the February 14 incident and the F-35's lithium-ion batteries.
Honeywell said it would inspect the system - which manages the distribution of hot and cold air throughout the plane's fuselage - once it arrived at the company's Phoenix testing facility.
(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)