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Navy aviation orders one-day stand down following several mishaps

After a week that saw two Navy plane crashes, one of which killed two U.S. service members, the head of Naval Air Forces ordered a one-day safety stand down for non-deployed units Monday.

The order by Naval Air Forces commander Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell aimed to provide “an opportunity for our aviation commands to focus on how to further improve operational risk management and risk mitigation across the Naval Aviation enterprise.”

The stand down follows the crash of a T-6B Texan II training jet Friday in Alabama that killed Coast Guard Ensign Morgan Garrett and Navy Lt. Rhiannon Ross.

They were flying a routine mission out of nearby Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Florida, when the turboprop aircraft went down in a residential neighborhood, according to Navy officials.

Ross was assigned to Training Squadron 2, a unit that provides flight training to other services.

A few days before that fatal crash, an F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed near NAS near Naval Weapons Station China Lake, California, on Oct. 20. The jet was flying out of nearby Naval Air Station Lemoore.

The pilot was able to eject in that mishap.

For Navy aviation, it’s a grim start to the new fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

The Naval Safety Center reported no aviation-related fatalities for the just-ended fiscal 2020, the first time such a feat had occurred since the service started tracking such incidents in 1922.

“The safety of our personnel and our local communities is a top priority,” the Navy said in a statement announcing the stand down. “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.”

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