A Simple Flashlight Destroys $14 Million Air Force F-35 Engine

A $14 million fighter jet engine was irreparably damaged after an engineer left a flashlight inside the engine. The incident happened at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz., on a plane with the 56th Fighter Wing. The F-35 jet was undergoing a routine check of its propulsion system, and a metering plug was inserted into an engine fuel line. Having inserted the metering plug, the 3-person engineering team then sealed up the plane and tested the engine. They fired the engines in the hangar and let the plane run for 13 minutes. None of the warning sirens sounded, and the test appeared to be carried out as normal. However, when they shut the engine off, the engineers heard a clanging sound. They identified the damage as being done to the blades and said they believed the plane “just ingested a flashlight.” The entire engine needed to be scrapped. The Air Force Aircraft Accident Investigation Board found that the engineers failed to follow correct procedures and do a tool check to make sure all their tools were accounted for before starting the engine. They also failed to the use the standard procedure of attaching to themselves all the items they may need. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident. Officials declined to say whether any of the maintenance crew involved faced punishment.