Navy Orders Aviation Stand-Down After Plane Crash Kills 2 in Alabama

Navy aviation units that aren’t currently deployed were directed Monday to hold a service-wide safety stand-down following a pair of recent crashes, including one that killed two military officers.

Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, commander of Naval Air Forces, ordered Navy aviation units to hold the stand-down, the service announced in a news release. The pause in flight operations is meant to give aviation commands an opportunity to focus on “how to further improve operational risk management and risk mitigation across the Naval Aviation enterprise,” it states.

“The safety of our personnel and our local communities is a top priority,” the statement adds. “[We] take all aviation incidents extremely seriously.”

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The stand-down follows two separate crashes that occurred last week.

On Friday, a T-6B Texan II trainer plane crashed in Foley, Alabama, killing Navy Lt. Rhiannon Ross and Coast Guard Ensign Morgan Garrett. Ross was a 30-year-old instructor pilot from Michigan. Garrett was a 24-year-old student aviator from North Carolina.

Three days earlier, a Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed near Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California during a routine training flight. The pilot safely ejected and was treated at a local medical facility.

No civilians were hurt in either incident. The crash in Alabama happened in a residential neighborhood near Alabama’s southern coast.

The cause of both crashes remains under investigation.

The Naval Safety Center announced just before the Super Hornet crash that for the first time in nearly a century, both the Navy and Marine Corps went a whole year without suffering any aviation-related deaths.

Rear Adm. F.R. “Lucky” Luchtman, the center’s commander, called the milestone unprecedented, adding that it was the result of naval aviation’s tireless commitment to safety and excellence.”

“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 Navy statement on the stand-down said.

— Oriana Pawlyk contributed to this report.

— Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Related: Navy Pilot Ejects Safely Before Super Hornet Crashes Near China Lake

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