Pictures: Pilot trapped for 5h in cockpit of USAF's new $135m F-22A Raptor after canopy jams

Washington DC
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EXCLUSIVE IMAGES
 
TRAPPED F-22 PILOT CUT FREE


Raptor canopy stuck in down and locked position sawn open by fire crew after 5h

A fire crew had to cut open the canopy of a US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor fighter with chainsaws on 10 April to free the pilot, who had been trapped inside for 5h.

The Raptor stealth fighter, heralded as the most technologically-advanced fighter in the world, entered service in January after 19 years of development. Each jet costs around $134 million per unit. 

The canopy became stuck in the down and locked position and could not be opened manually after the pilot cycled the mechanism several times, following a pre-flight warning that the canopy was unlocked.

The cause of the malfunction has not been determined. The cost of replacing the canopy, which belongs to an aircraft from the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB, Virginia, is estimated at more than $180,000.

These exclusive photos, provided via the 1st Maintenance Group, show the event unfolding.

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On 10 April 2006 at approximately 08:15, aircraft 03-041 had a Red Ball for a canopy unlock indication. Attempts to clear the problems by cycling the canopy failed. The final cycling of the canopy resulted in it being in the down and locked position. The canopy would not cycle up from this position, trapping the pilot in the cockpit. The aircraft subsequently ground aborted. 

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Stranded inside the Raptor's cockpit, the pilot had to be cut free. Langley AFB consulted Lockheed Martin and the F-22A system programme office to determine alternate methods to open the canopy and extract the pilot.

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After all maintenance options were exhausted, the canopy was cut by fire department personnel. 

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The pilot was extracted at approximately 13:15. 

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 The F-22A's interior was contaminated by oil from the chainsaws...

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...and shards of polycarbonate from the canopy. 

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Low observable material damage from sliding canopy is visible on airframe. 


Blog:
Read Max Kingsley-Jones's view on how lessons from Spitfire history were not learnt in the case of the Lockheed Martin F-22A canopy jam