The news was confirmed on Twitter by the U.S. Navy on Oct. 2.
The service added that an instructor pilot (IP) and a student, whose names have not yet been released, were aboard the aircraft.
Noteworthy this fatalities mark the Navy’s first Class A aviation mishaps of 2017, according to data published by Breaking Defense, bringing the Navy’s total to eight since 2012.
As reported by FlightGlobal NAS Meridian had initially received reports of a T-45 crash near Tellico Plains, Tennessee, about 70 miles south of Knoxville, on the evening of Oct. 1. The next morning, the wreckage was identified by investigators as the same jet that went missing the previous evening.
Even if the Oct. 1 crash is the first incident to result in military fatalities, there have been at least two others involving T-45C Goshawks operating out of NAS Meridian in the last year.
As told by Task & Purpose while the Navy has not yet identified the cause of the crash, the incident comes at a precarious time for the T-45s typically utilized for pilot training.
In fact after multiple reported instances of hypoxia, more than 100 IPs across several squadrons in April refused to operate their T-45 trainer jets until the Navy addressed problems with the aircraft’s oxygen system, leading to aviation officials to indefinitely ground the branch’s entire fleet in an operational pause to address the episodes.
But despite the installation of the new CRU-123 oxygen monitor system among the fleet there have been four similar physiological episodes since August.
Navy officials told Military.com that the incidents all share “a telling commonality: in the two-seater aircraft, one of the aircrew experienced problems, and the other did not” — suggesting that some pilots are experiencing psychologically based oxygen issues based on stress and anxiety rather than a system failure.
The T-45C, with a digital cockpit to train pilots destined for the F/A-18 Hornet, the AV-8B Harrier II and other carrier-based aircraft, made its first flight in October 1997. It had two multifunction displays in each cockpit; the displays provided navigation, weapon delivery, aircraft performance and communication data.
Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard and Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zach Sleeper / U.S. Navy
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