Seven years after an accident that nearly saw the jet written off, a U.S. Air Force Lockheed-Martin F-22A Raptor serial 02-4037/TY made a functional check flight at Hill Air Force Base (AFB), UT after an extensive 7-year repair of the aircraft at the Ogden Air Logistics Center (OOALC).
The Raptor was damaged on May 31, 2012, when a trainee pilot was conducting touch and go landings at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. According to the Air Force Accident Investigation Board’s findings, the pilot failed to accelerate the jet to military power and engaged “premature retraction of the landing gear.” Without enough thrust, the F-22, known by its USAF serial number 02-4037, fell back down to Earth and skidded on its belly for 2,800 feet. The pilot escaped from the damaged aircraft after it stopped, suffering only minor injuries. The pilot was reportedly only on his third flight in an F-22 when the accident occurred.
The Air Force reckoned 02-4037 could be saved, although it would take $35 million to do it. In the U.S. Military, it was known as a “Class A” accident or one that involves a million dollars or more of damage to an aircraft. Raptors aren’t exactly growing on trees—not only did the F-22 production line close in 2012, but at $142 million per plane, it would have been cheaper to fix the jet anyway. The damaged warbird was taken to Odgen Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, for what was thought to be a four-year repair job.
According to Scramble Magazine, Major Philip “Stonewall” Johnson from the locally based 514th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) made a successful flight in the aircraft. It was not reported if the aircraft had already been re-delivered to operational service.
It was operated by the 43rd Fighter Squadron ‘Hornets’ at the time. It was determined that repairing the aircraft was feasible and worth the costs.
As we have previously reported details on the repair effort were disclosed in 2017 by Joseph Nelson, a U.S Air Force (USAF) civilian working in the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center.
The repair effort began shortly after the mishap occurred when a team of USAF, Lockheed and Boeing structural repair experts convened to analyze damages valued at about $35 million.
In addition to repairing scratches to the skins of the wing and the stabilator, the USAF also replaced the s and doors of the central and aft fuselage.
The analysis also showed that two internal components – a fuselage bulkhead and a section of the wing skin required the USAF to install metallic and carbon fiber patches. The most significant repairs were made to bulkhead known as flight station 637, where buckled webs needed to be replaced with large structural
Noteworthy the process to return the aircraft to service condition offers a glimpse into the effort the USAF undertakes to keep as many of the limited number of F-22 fifth-generation fighters flying rather than writing them off after extensive damages.