Five-Year Mystery Solved: Why Are So Many Military Pilots Choking?
Thursday, July 26, 2012
F-22 (photo-Rob Shenk)
The U.S. Air Force has decided to lift its flying restrictions on the pricey F-22 Raptor after determining the oxygen problem pilots were experiencing was not related to the planes.
In May, the service limited the F-22 to low-altitude flights only after more than a dozen pilots experienced some two-dozen “psychological incidents” (related to hypoxia, or lack of oxygen) while flying the aircraft at higher levels.
After reviewing the planes’ systems and components, the Air Force found the problem was with the flight suits and not the aircraft. A malfunctioning valve on the vest was limiting the amount of oxygen needed by the pilots. The valve will be replaced.
Over a two-year period alone (April 2008 to May 2010), 12 or more F-22 pilots experienced severe bouts of dizziness, with some even blacking out.
The F-22 is one of the most expensive aircrafts ever developed by the military, “costing between $137 million and $678 million per plane depending on how you count,” according to Spencer Ackerman at Wired.
Pentagon Lifts Flight Restrictions on F-22 Fleet (by Carlo Munoz, The Hill)
Pentagon: Blame Tight Vests, Not Stealth Jets, for Choking Pilots (by Spencer Ackerman, Wired)
Defense Chief Restricts Stealth Jet till It Stops Choking Pilots (by Spencer Ackerman, Wired)
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