SHAH ALAM: Bring it on Home. It appears that there is more to the RTAF T-50TH arrival at Kuantan airport on Jan. 10. Initially I was told that the two T-50THs made a brief stop-over at Kuantan as part of its ferry flight from South Korea to Thailand.
News reports from Thailand however had indicated that it was more of an emergency diversion than a planned stop over. The two jet trainers had suffered severe weather while flying over the South China Sea and the pilots had decided to divert to Kuantan to check the aircraft.
Visual inspections confirmed their fears and Korean Aerospace had already told RTAF that the delivery had been delayed indefinitely until thorough checks could be done. What is not clear is whether one or both had suffered the damage.
Further reports from Thailand suggested that the aircraft had suffered FOD (foreign object damage) on the engine, prompting the RTAF chief to demand KAI replaced it with a new one. This indicate one suffered damage to its engine though it does not meant the other one had not suffered any damage as well.
The T-50 uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a FADEC system jointly developed by General Electric and KAI. The engine consists of three-stage fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner
If they need to replace the engine, it is likely the T-50THs will be in Kuantan much longer. KAI probably need about 10 hours to fly out an F404-102 engine to Kuantan though it depends whether it has one in stock or it is willing to do so.
An engine change will also meant that KAI need to get a hangar to do the work. Perhaps they will rent out some hangar space at Kuantan airbase or even the ATSC hangar also located there.
It is unlikely that we will be able to see the T-50THs in the flesh. My guess KAI will not allow the media to cover these episode though no fault of its own.
I had surmised that the aircraft suffered damage to the airframe by hailstones and the latest reports seemed to suggest that my assumption could be wrong. I stand to be corrected of course.
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