Fears about a cancer-causing substance in the cockpit has prompted the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to suspend training flights for its 62-aircraft fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16I Sufas. ?xml:namespace>
“According to tests the substance is formaldehyde that recently was defined as causing cancer above certain concentration,” says the IAF spokesman.
Formaldehyde is a known by-product of jet engine exhaust, but it’s not clear if the IDF detected uniquely high levels in the cockpit of the F-16I. By contrast, the IAF’s fleet of 125 F-16C/Ds remain fully operational.
Israeli sources say an IAF team is traveling on Sunday to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics headquarters at ?xml:namespace>Fort Worth, Texas, to identify the source of the potentially cancerous substance.
The sources also indicate that the immediate source of the formaldehyde is probably the F-16I air conditioning system.
Lockheed Martin is “investigating some recent IAF pilot reports regarding the air quality in their F-16I aircraft and we are providing this support,” a company spokeswoman says. “We have not had similar reports by other F-16 users.”
There are 3,561 F-16s in active service with international air forces around the world, according to Flight’s Milicas database.