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Stealth Fighter Jet Chokes Yet Another Pilot

Discussion in 'The Americas' started by Anees, Jul 12, 2012.

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  1. Anees

    Anees Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Stealth Fighter Jet Chokes Yet Another Pilot

    [​IMG]

    The Air Force swears it’s working like mad to figure out why its premiere stealth fighter, the F-22 Raptor, is choking its pilots. They better: Just on Friday, another Raptor pilot experienced shortness of breath while flying his aircraft over Hawaii.

    Luckily, he landed safely. But the hypoxia mystery — which the Air Force plans to spend much of the year inspecting — continues: This was the 23rd unexplained “hypoxic incident†since the Raptor was introduced in 2005.

    “We just learned of another hypoxia incident, when a pilot declared an emergency off of Hawaii last Friday, and landed safety,†Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), said to reporters on Tuesday. “And I will give the Air Force credit that they notified the congressman and I of this incident.†The incident is now under a 30-day review period, but is potentially another sign in a series of troubles Warner said “unfortunately seems to be unending.†In late June, an F-22 was forced to land after encountering oxygen problems near Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

    Also on Tuesday, Warner and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois) sent a letter to Air Force officials that cited data from an Air Force committee about a crucial Raptor component, the On-Board Oxygen Generating System, or OBOGS. The data indicates that the “quantity of oxygen†the pilots need “may, in fact, be greater†than what the OBOGS supplies. And Warner wants to know whether the data will reach a panel in charge of overseeing the investigation.


    “I have to say at least I have concerns about the Air Force’s ability to get to the bottom of this,†Warner said.

    OBOGS had long been suspected as a culprit. The way it works: Compressed air from the Raptor’s engines is sucked into the system, which produces a (theoretically) unlimited supply of breathable oxygen. If there’s a problem with getting enough oxygen, odds are there’s a problem with OBOGS.

    But in February, attention focused on the F-22′s coolant system, which investigators believed could be leaking into the oxygen system. Another potential culprit was the pilots’ constrictive g-suits, which the Air Force ordered replaced. But with incidents still occurring, attention refocused on OBOGS.

    “One of the things that the Air Force had indicated to us was that they were looking at the fact that the OBOGS, when it was originally designed, may have been designed to older standards of how many liters of oxygen per minute a pilot needed,†Warner said. “And that when you actually look at the extremely high workloads these pilots are enduring under high gees, heavy maneuvering type of flight, that it may be that they require more oxygen than the system was originally designed to put out.â€

    But that wouldn’t explain hypoxia-like incidents which occurred on the ground, Warner cautions. The truth may instead be a series of interrelated problems with no easy solution. Even attempting to fix the problem has created other problems.

    The Air Force grounded the Raptor for four months last year after pilots reported blackouts, and a 2010 crash of an F-22 in Alaska killed its pilot. An investigation by manufacturers Boeing and Lockheed Martin was inconclusive. And then the problems got worse. The Air Force attached charcoal filters to OBOGS. But then pilots began choking up black phlegm, as the charcoal filters were causing black dust to enter the pilots’ lungs.

    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered to the F-22s to restrict travel outside of nearby landing locations where a hypoxia-stricken pilot could make a quick landing. Panetta also ordered the Air Force to begin installing an oxygen backup system. This is while two F-22 pilots, Capt. Josh Wilson and Maj. Jeremy Gordon, blew the whistle on 60 Minutes. Wilson, the younger of the two pilots, is now facing disciplinary action, but has also been granted whistleblower protection under federal law. Many pilots fear for their lives.

    And in May, Wilson anticipated more incidents. In the past month, there’s so far been at least two. What about the next one? It could be fatal.

    Stealth Fighter Jet Chokes Yet Another Pilot | Danger Room | Wired.com
     
  2. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    Stealth coating evaporating during and immediately after flight and getting sucked in by OBOGS (OBOGS takes some air from engine intakes). It is only explanation that would explain why ground crews also display symptoms, but USAF apparently doesn't want to think about it, for obvious reasons - F22s stealth coating is half of its flyaway cost.
     
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  3. kaku

    kaku Major Technical Analyst

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    For f-22, IT NEEDS oxygen cylinder, and refill on every mission.
     
  4. Gessler

    Gessler Mod MODERATOR

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    @Picard

    Is the stealth coating somewhat radioactive?
     
  5. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Enemy wont need VHF radars to detect and shot down F-22s if this problem is not solved

    Planes design flaws itself will bring down this expensive birdy on Long Range Missions

    Hurry up USAF and solve ,
    F-22 is one of my dream fighters,
    I hate to see it in trouble even if it is not Indian.
     
  6. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Yes, i have been hearing a lot about it.
     
  7. Gessler

    Gessler Mod MODERATOR

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    They'll have to remove the stealth coating at the inlet area and front fuselage maybe, and
    replace it with a new, less-dangerous materials...that could decrease frontal stealth but
    stealth not more important than the pilot's life.
     
  8. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    Maybe use F35s materials?
     
  9. tangocharlie

    tangocharlie Lieutenant SENIOR MEMBER

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    They may scrap the entire painting/coating material, which is now in use on this fighter aircraft. Else, there would be very dangerous for the entire fleet.
     
  10. Himanshu Pandey

    Himanshu Pandey Don't get mad, get even. STAR MEMBER

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    AHA... and here goes tech super power who can't provide oxygen to its pilot.sweet isn' it... I always wanted to say this with lots of american against LCA, PAKFA and AMCA and its capabilities....

    on Serious note In my opinion they should get help from outside... Sometimes when you think and look a lot in a problem you miss the simple things which are reason of the problem as you are not neutral in solving the problem... its a good plane and all of USA see it pride, but pride has its own cost which is inability to see simple things, outside consultant like British can do a fresh start and solve this problem
     
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  11. Gessler

    Gessler Mod MODERATOR

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    Yes, that'll be better. The Fiber Mat, yes, thats important...improve on it and replace this
    throat-pressers immediatdly.
     
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  12. Devil

    Devil Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    considering this won't it be a problem for pak-fa it is another stealth fighter
     
  13. Averageamerican

    Averageamerican Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Pentagon: Blame Tight Vests, Not Stealth Jets, for Choking Pilots

    By Spencer Ackerman
    Email Author
    July 24, 2012

    The mysterious engineering problem causing F-22 Raptor pilots to choke in their cockpits has been solved, the Pentagon says. And it’s not the nearly $400 million aircraft’s fault after all.

    The problem lies with a valve in the pressurized vest pilots wear as they fly the jet at high altitudes, Pentagon spokesman George Little said. The valve inflated the vest, limiting the pilots’ oxygen supply. It does not appear that the vest was affecting quality of the oxygen in the Raptor. The valve will be replaced; the garment’s use will be “suspended,” Little said.

    Additionally, the Air Force has decided to remove a filter it placed in the jet to test the oxygen quality. Ironically, the filter ended up limiting the oxygen supply to the pilots. But the charcoal filter resulted in “no oxygen contamination,” Little told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

    Accordingly, the Air Force will gradually take its premiere stealth jet off of the probation that the so-called “hypoxia” incidents — a term indicating problems with the oxygen in the cockpit — necessitated. Over an unspecified period of time, the F-22 will no longer be restricted to flying short missions at low altitudes near air bases. The first indication that the jet is off probation will be an imminent flight of an F-22 squadron over the Pacific to Kadena Air Force Base in Japan — which will occur at a “lower altitude,” Little said.



    Asked why the oxygen problems weren’t discovered earlier, Gen. Norton Schwartz, the retiring Air Force chief of staff replied, “This is a unique aircraft… There were aspects of this, from the physiological point of view of the aviator, [that] weren’t well-enough understood.”

    Since the Raptor was introduced into the Air Force fleet in 2005, it has been associated with 23 hypoxia incidents — the most recent of which occurred just this month in Hawaii. Hypoxia contributed to at least one pilot death, of Cpt. Jeffrey Haney, over Alaska in November 2010, although the Air Force officially ruled that a “pilot error.” Congressional inquiries later determined that the F-22 Raptor recorded nearly 27 hypoxia incidents for every 100,000 flight hours, a rate vastly higher than any other aircraft.

    Air Force engineers have struggled for months to understand the source of the hypoxia problems — a black mark for an expensive airplane. (Figuring out just how expensive the F-22 is depends on how you count.) The Air Force briefly grounded the F-22 airfleet twice in 2011. In May, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stepped into the engineering mystery by restricting its flights and ordering a new backup oxygen system installed, which should be complete by the end of the year.

    The restrictions occurred on the back of a 60 Minutes report featuring two F-22 pilots, Cpt. Josh Wilson and Maj. Jeremy Gordon, who told the program that the “vast, silent majority” of their colleagues consider the Raptor unsafe to fly. The Air Force pursued disciplinary action against Wilson.

    But unless a different engineering problem emerges, the Air Force might have solved its F-22 mystery. Little hailed the “safety record, overall” of the Raptor. “We can never take the risk to zero,” he said, but the Air Force and the Pentagon consider pilot safety “paramount.”

    Schwartz said that the lesson of the F-22′s oxygen woes was to reinvigorate its understanding of pilot physiology. “That expertise has diminished over time,” he conceded. Asked what the Air Force could do to ensure that similar problems don’t recur with the forthcoming F-35 — another expensive advanced fighter — Schwartz said, “Test. Test deep. Test continuously.”
    Pentagon: Blame Tight Vests, Not Stealth Jets, for Choking Pilots | Danger Room | Wired.com
     
  14. Picard

    Picard Lt. Colonel RESEARCHER

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    That smells on bullshit. Why were ground crews experiencing symptoms too then?
     
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  15. Scorpion82

    Scorpion82 Captain FULL MEMBER

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    Is there a source that makes such a claim (ground crew suffering from similar symptoms)?
     
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