WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. navy Monday grounded 39 P-3 Orion anti-submarine patrol planes -- nearly one in four of its inventory -- over concerns of the plane's faulty wings.
The grounding reflected worries that a structural defect could cause either of the aircraft's wings to break off in flight, John Milliman, spokesman for Naval Air Systems Command, told reporters.
But Milliman said the measure was the result of engineering analysis and computer modeling, and was not caused by any actual structural failures.
Each grounded aircraft will be flown to a repair depot in Jacksonville, Fla.
Those that can be repaired will be out of service for between 18 and 24 months while those that can't will be retired.
The U.S. navy has 161 P-3s. Their average age is 28 years old; the oldest aircraft is 44 and the youngest 18.