U.S. Marines Ground All Aircraft for 24 Hours After 2 Deadly Crashes

NELLIS AFB, NV – APRIL 25: A United States Marine Corps KC-130 air refueling aircraft lands at Nellis Air Force Base while participating in the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2006 (JEFX 06) April 25, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. JEFX is a biannual test of new systems and technologies by every branch of the military in an attempt to speed their introduction into the modern battlefield. This year’s tests involve about 1,400 personnel from the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia studying new technologies during mock combat over the Nevada desert and center on finding better ways to communicate critical information between armed forces. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The commandant of the US Marine Corps announced a 24-hour operational pause for all of the branch’s aircraft Friday, a move that comes after the Marines suffered two deadly crashes in recent weeks.

“Gen. Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, directed US Marine Corps aviation units to conduct an operational reset for a 24 hour-period where no flight operations will take place but no operational commitments will be impacted,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.

The pause will affect all Marine Corps aircraft, including those with tilt-rotors, helicopters and fixed-wing planes.

Each unit commander will have the flexibility to carry out the pause at his or her discretion within a two-week period, meaning not all aircraft will be grounded at the same time. This will allow Marines currently performing combat missions to continue operating and come up with a plan to ensure that operational commitments are not affected by the pause.

The operational reset is not related to any equipment issues, and the Marines plan to use the 24-hour period “to focus on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, standardization, and combat readiness.” Flying squadrons will review selected incidents and study historical examples of completed investigations “in order to bring awareness and best practices to the fleet.”

The pause comes after two major Marine Corps aviation accidents. An MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed last week while operating off the coast of Australia, killing three of the 26 Marines on board. A KC-130T transport plane crashed in Mississippi in July, resulting in the death of 15 Marines and a Navy corpsman.

“Pauses in operations are not uncommon and are viewed as a responsible step to refresh and review best practices and procedures so our units remain capable, safe, and ready,” the Marine Corps statement said.

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SOURCE: CNN, Ryan Browne