In April, an ejection seat manufacturer officially notified the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD) Cartridge Actuated Devices/Propellant Actuated Devices (CAD/PAD) Joint Program Office (JPO) and the F-35 JPO of a quality escape that would prevent a CAD installed on the F-35 ejection seat from functioning properly. The quality escape was initially discovered by ejection seat technicians performing routine maintenance, who found that the Seat Initiator Cartridge was missing magnesium powder. Magnesium powder, an energetic material, is required as part of the explosive charge for aircrew to initiate the ejection seat. The root cause stemmed from a United Kingdom Health Surveillance and Occupational Health requirement resulting in a change to the manufacturing process, increasing the potential for a production defect.
Working closely with the manufacturer and the F-35 JPO, NSWC IHD CAD/PAD personnel developed and validated a non-destructive procedure to quickly verify if suspect devices contained required energetic ingredients. In addition, Expeditionary Exploitation Unit ONE, developed a portable radiographic inspection procedure to support on-site testing of aircraft for this particular defect. Utilizing NSWC IHD’s CAD/PAD Division in-service engineering agents as needed, the strategy was implemented around the country to support F-35 aviation readiness.