Loose nut causes more than $60m worth of damage to US military surveillance aircraft

27 members of crew were on board at the time of the incident

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The Independent US

A loose nut caused more than $60 million worth of damage when a US reconnaissance aircraft was forced to abort a training flight with 27 airmen on board after the aircraft caught fire.

The US reconnaissance RC-135V aeroplane, predominantly used for electronic surveillance, burst into flames during the take-off for a training flight on 30 April in Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

A subsequent investigation, published on 3 August after a Freedom of Information request by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper, determined the fire was caused after a third-party contractor failed to adequately secure oxygen tubing to within the aircraft.

“Failure by L3 Communications depot maintenance personnel to tighten a retaining nut connecting a metal oxygen tube to a junction fitting above the galley properly caused an oxygen leak,” the report states.

The subsequent fire caused “severe damage to the airframe, galley, and mission equipment on board the aircraft.”

And the financial cost of that single loose nut? $62.4 million.

No one was hurt in the incident with all 27 crew members making it safely off the aircraft that skidded to halt on the runway after flames erupted.

A spokesperson for L-3 Communication declined to comment when contacted by Omaha. The Independent has also contacted L-3 for comment.

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