A PSA for F-22 pilots

f22 cat.jpgIt’s been another wild week for the Lockheed Martin F-22 fleet.

For the first time in five days, about 30 F-22s at Langley AFB, Virginia, were cleared to fly today. That comes one day after Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson lifted a grounding order on 40 F-22s. Both flight stoppages were triggered on 20 October after a Langley pilot reported hypoxia-like symptoms. A string of similar reports over a two-year period led to a four-month grounding that ended only one month ago. The latest grounding probably did not have a major impact on operations. As one Langley public affairs officer explained, the F-22s wouldn’t have flown that much over the weekend anyway.

USAF officials still do not appear to understand what is causing the malfunctions in the life support systems. The USAF has not requested any changes to the Honeywell onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS), which diverts air from the compressor section of the engines, filters it through a molecular sieve and supplies concentrated oxygen to the pilot’s breathing mask and anti-g suit. 

Hopefully, the technological issues driving the investigation will become clear next month. That’s when the special commission chaired by retired USAF General Greg “Speedy” Martin are scheduled to release a public version of their findings. Until then, all we can do is continue asking questions, and wait for more groundings.


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