Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander, Naval Air Forces, directed all non-deployed U.S. Navy aviation units to conduct a safety stand down Oct. 26.
This safety stand down follows an F/A-18E Super Hornet crash near Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake on Oct. 20, in which the pilot ejected safely, and a T-6B Texan II crash in Foley, Alabama, on Oct. 23, in which the two-person aircrew did not survive. The victims of the latter incident were identified as U.S. Navy Lt. Rhiannon Ross, 30 years old from Wixom, Michigan, (instructor pilot) and U.S. Coast Guard Ensign Morgan Garrett, 24 years old from Weddington, North Carolina (student aviator). No civilians were injured as a result of either incident.
“This stand down provides an opportunity for our aviation commands to focus on how to further improve operational risk management and risk mitigation across the Naval Aviation enterprise”, said a Navy statement.
“The safety of our personnel and our local communities is a top priority we take all aviation incidents extremely seriously. We remain the greatest aviation force in the world and are committed to learning from these incidents in order to avoid these tragedies in the future”, the statement added.
The fatal crash came just days after the Navy announced that the service, along with the Marine Corps, closed out the previous fiscal year without a single aviation-related fatality for the first time in recorded naval aviation history.