Risk of Growler Jet Accidents

Pacific Northwest Coast Alliance

Risk of Accidents

  • The Growler’s F-18 airframe is one of the most accident-prone military airframes in existence. Between 1980 and 2014, the F18 sustained 39 accidents; 22 crashes of the EA-18G and F/A-18 E, F have occurred since 2000. The F-18 Super Hornet platform has a mishap rate well above the average of all military aircraft, including two serious mishaps involving EA-18G Growlers, since December of 2016.

    Given this history, increased flights would endanger schools, hospitals, homes, parks/playfields, and highways located near the runway. Parts of state Route 20, the only north-south highway on Whidbey Island, lie beneath the Growler’s highest-risk crash zone. Coupeville’s elementary, middle, and high schools are all located within four miles of the runway. Hospitals and fire stations are also close by, as are businesses and residences. 
  • To provide acceptable civilian safeguards and livability, the Navy prefers at least 2,000 unsettled acres to conduct a training program of this kind. Yet, repeatedly, the Navy has granted itself waivers on Whidbey, and local policymakers have looked the other way. Today, there are training missions over 664 acres of populated land on Whidbey Island. Thus, the Navy is in violation of its own safety standards, thereby putting islanders at risk.
  • The runway itself is unsafe. The 5,400-foot strip, built prior to 1943 to accommodate aircraft built in the 1940s, is nearly 3,500 feet too short for Growler jet “touch and go” operations, which require 8,800 feet. The runway cannot be extended. For 32 years, the runway has failed to meet Navy runway safety standards. Thus, the Navy is putting its own pilots in danger by asking them to train on an inadequate runway.
  • Our pilots should have the best possible training, and the Navy should provide a training site that provides realistic carrier landing and takeoff conditions in a way that does not needlessly endanger pilots or civilians.
  • A single Growler costs $85-100 million. These very expensive weapons, paid for by taxpayers, should be deployed in an area equipped to handle their needs. At present, the Outlying Runway at Coupeville cannot do that.