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Old 05-01-2012, 03:45 PM   #111
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‘Small number’ of pilots wary of flying F-22

Air Force still trying to determine cause of hypoxia-related incidents

Posted : Monday Apr 30, 2012 14:55:57 EDT

A “very small number” of F-22 pilots have requested to not fly the Air Force’s Raptors following the grounding and unfruitful investigation into the oxygen problems plaguing the stealthy jet, the head of Air Combat Command said Monday.

The service has yet to identify a root cause for 11 unexplained hypoxia-related incidents, and the command has extended its investigation to looking at ground maintainers who have experienced oxygen-related problems in handling the jet, Gen. Mike Hostage said in a wide-ranging media briefing at Joint Base Langley -Eustis, Va.

There is a worry among pilots, Hostage said, but he does not see a reason to stand down. The briefing, in fact, came just days after the Air Force announced that a squadron of F-22s were headed to a deployment in southwest Asia. Officials on Monday would not say where the F-22s were deployed from, or give additional details about their mission.

“The risk is not as low as I’d like it,” Hostage said of the deployed F-22s.

“This nation needs this airplane. I wish I had 10 times as many. It’s our best airplane,” he added.

The Air Force in May 2011 grounded its entire F-22 fleet for four months due to repeated cases of hypoxia. Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, the director of operations for ACC, said that the F-22 has flown 12,000 sorties since September with 11 unexplained cases of hypoxia.

Since the grounding was lifted, pilots have taken extra precautions such as wearing a commercial pulse oximeter to measure the amount of oxygen in their blood and added a charcoal air filter to measure the amount of toxins in the air. The filters were recently removed, Lyon said, because analysis of more than 500 revealed no unhealthy amount of toxins post-flight.

ACC has directed all pilots to abort their mission and land the aircraft if they encounter any physiological problems, Hostage said. Since the directive was announced, which began after pilots were cleared to fly following the grounding, there has been an expected increase in incidents.

“We fully expect that we are going to have more incidents since we lowered the threshold,” Hostage said.

Hostage said the F-22 is back to flying long flights and at high altitude. The Raptors were contained to a lower ceiling immediately after the grounding was lifted.

A large task force, including engineers, doctors, physiologists, analysts and others, is continuing to try to determine a root cause. Lyon said he believes there is a root cause and that the service is narrowing down on it. Either pilots are not getting enough oxygen for some reason or toxins are either not being filtered or the aircraft is creating them, he indicated.

“The smoking gun is disassembled in a mosaic in front of us ... at some point we’re going to have the smoking gun assembled,” Lyon said.
http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/20...g-f-22-043012/
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Old 05-07-2012, 05:11 PM   #112
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Air Force Pilots Blow The Whistle On F-22 Raptor's Mysterious, And Dangerous, Flaw

Two elite Air Force pilots are seeking protection under the federal whistleblower law for revealing safety problems on the F-22 Raptor, and refusing to fly until those issues are resolved.

On Sunday night, Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Josh Wilson risked their careers by appearing on the CBS news program "60 Minutes," in uniform and without permission to discuss the stealth fighter's flaw.

Both pilots, who flew combat missions in the Iraq War, said they love flying the $400 million jets. But a faulty oxygen system that is suffocating the pilots and causing blackouts is making them fear for their lives and for the lives of people on the ground. Many other F-22 pilots have experienced disorientation, difficulty breathing and forgetfulness in the stealth fighters as well as a cough that follows them even after they land.

This dangerous safety issue may have even claimed a pilot's life.

In 2010, Capt. Jeffrey Haney died when his F-22 crashed in Alaska, The Air Force Times reported. Although evidence showed Haney had blacked out just prior to hitting the ground, the incident was attributed to pilot error, Danger Room reported.

More than a dozen other incidents occurred after the crash, prompting the Air Force to ground the jets in May 2011. But an investigation into the F-22's on-board oxygen-generating system found no "definitive cause" for the blackouts.

The Air Force put the jets back into the air last September, and ordered a change in the aircraft's charcoal filters as a stop gap measure. Following this update, several pilots who flew in the modified jets suffered from oxygen deprivation, including Maj. Gordon. Others began coughing up black sputum.

Despite the known safety issues, F-22 pilots have been ordered to continue flying. In fact, the Air Force is now threatening pilots with disciplinary action if they refuse to fly for safety reasons.

In response, some pilots are taking out extra life insurance policies. In addition to pleading their case on "60 Minutes," Maj. Gordon and Capt. Wilson have reached out to Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) for help and whistleblower protection.

"We are waiting for something to happen," Capt. Wilson said. "And if it happens, nobody's going to be surprised. I think it's a matter of time."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...n_1494880.html
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Old 05-07-2012, 05:24 PM   #113
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The following script is from "The Raptor" which originally aired on May 6, 2012. Lesley Stahl is the correspondent. Karen Sughrue, producer.

Josh Wilson: It was, you know, kind of a surreal experience.

Josh says that during a routine F-22 training mission in February 2011, he suddenly realized he was losing control.

Josh Wilson: Several times during the flight, I had to really concentrate, immense concentration on just doing simple, simple tasks. Our training tells you if you suspect something's probably going on, go ahead and pull your emergency oxygen and come back home. When I did make that decision to pull the emergency oxygen ring, I couldn't find it. I couldn't remember, you know, what part of the aircraft it was in.

Lesley Stahl: So this emergency ring was exactly where it should've been?

Josh Wilson: Uh-huh.

Lesley Stahl: You just couldn't figure it out.

Josh Wilson: I couldn't figure out. I did not know where it was.

The Air Force says Josh's extreme disorientation resembled a condition called hypoxia or oxygen deprivation. In training, pilots in that state can have trouble even identifying a playing card.

Jeremy Gordon: The onset of this is insidious. Some pilots will go the entire mission, land, and not know anything went wrong. There was a publicly announced incident of a jet in Alaska hitting a tree and the pilot was not aware that he ran into a tree.

Lesley Stahl: He didn't know he hit a tree?

Jeremy Gordon: That's correct.

After Josh's incident, his symptoms were so severe, the Air Force sent him to a hyperbaric chamber.

Lesley Stahl: Hyperbaric, like the bends. This is the first time we've heard that pilots are going into hyperbaric chambers.

Josh Wilson: We've had several.

Even pilots who never had a physiological incident in the air had problems on the ground, in the days after they fly the plane.

Jeremy Gordon: Amongst F-22 pilots, there's a term called the "raptor cough," that is--

Lesley Stahl: The "raptor cough"?

Jeremy Gordon: In a room full of F-22 pilots, the vast majority will be coughing a lot of the times. Other things-- laying down for bed at night after flying and getting just the spinning room feeling, dizziness, tumbling, vertigo kind of stuff.

Lesley Stahl: I had heard that other pilots, because of their fears of crashing from their own vertigo, whatever, that they're taking out additional life insurance policies.

Josh Wilson: They are. Absolutely. We are waiting for something to happen. And if it happens, nobody's going to be surprised. I think it's a matter of time.

After a rash of similar hypoxia incidents, the Air Force took the radical step of grounding the entire F-22 fleet in May of 2011. The Pentagon revealed there had been 14 of these events in the previous three years, a rate described by its own scientific advisory board as "unusually high...and unacceptable."

Josh Wilson: We've got two theories with the jet right now. On the one hand, we're not getting the quality or the quantity of oxygen that we need. On the other hand, they're thinking contaminants. Somehow we're not getting what we need, or we're getting poisoned.

The Air Force launched an investigation that focused on the plane's onboard oxygen-generating system, or "OBOGS", which takes air from outside the jet, passes it through the engine and through a chemical process to produce a concentrated oxygen that the pilots breathe.

But with the investigation still underway, the Air Force put the plane back in the air last September, even though, as Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz told Congress, they still didn't know what was wrong.

[Norton Schwartz: We have been unable to identify a single engineering fault...]

Lesley Stahl: They didn't find the problem. They didn't find the cause, they didn't fix it and they sent the plane back up.

Josh Wilson: And we were eager to go. We couldn't wait to get back in the air.

Lesley Stahl: Well, wait a minute. They didn't find the problem?

Josh Wilson: No, they didn't.

Lesley Stahl: Why were you eager to go?

Josh Wilson: 'Cause we're pilots.

The Air Force justified the decision by giving pilots two new items to wear while flying, which were put on display at a recent news briefing.

Charles Lyon: This is a pulse oximeter.

Major General Charles Lyon is director of operations at the Air Force Air Combat Command.

Charles Lyon: The pilots fly with these. They're right on their arm. They look at them, and they check them. And if there's any indication of an abnormal oxygen rate, we terminate the flight.

The second was a charcoal filter designed to block contaminants the pilots might be breathing, and collect them for analysis. But less than a month after the planes began to fly again, another pilot suffered hypoxia.

Lesley Stahl: This was you. You had the first incident, right? In October?

Jeremy Gordon: Yeah, it was actually me and my wingman both had incidents on the same sortie.

Jeremy's jet was torn apart and analyzed, but there was no smoking gun. Pilots were told to keep flying so the Air Force could gather more data.

Lesley Stahl: Here's an email that we have seen from one of your fellow pilots. "I feel I'm in the most expensive group of lab monkeys ever assembled."

Jeremy Gordon: I haven't seen that one.

Josh Wilson: We have been--

Lesley Stahl: You feel like a lab monkey?

Josh Wilson: We have been told that we are data collectors. Our job right now is to go out and collect data.

After Jeremy's, the incidents seemed to escalate in number, or pilots reported more often. The count is now 11 in the seven months since the grounding ended.

Lesley Stahl: Does that sound like a lot to you or not?

Jeremy Gordon: It's an astronomical occurrence rate. This is totally just me in ball park, but probably unprecedented in flying, that many physiological incidents in that amount of time of the same type and same aircraft.

The Air Force has confirmed that they have never seen such high rates of hypoxia in any other aircraft, with 36 of the 200 pilots reporting an incident, or 18 percent.

On Monday, the Air Force invited us to an F-22 media event at Langley Air Force Base and admitted that even after calling in NASA and the Navy's deep divers unit to help, the root cause of the pilots' hypoxia remains a mystery. General Michael Hostage is head of the Air Combat Command which runs the F-22 program.

Lesley Stahl: Is there any consideration now in the Air Force to ground the plane again, to find out what's going wrong?

Michael Hostage: At this point, no. I don't see a reason to stand the plane down.

Lesley Stahl: But general, the cases still come. Do you have a feeling that the pilots are getting concerned?

Michael Hostage: I know they're concerned.

Lesley Stahl: And yet you're gonna keep flying them?

Michael Hostage: Yes ma'am. Ideally I want the risk as low as possible. I'm not able to drive it as low in this airplane as I am with others because of this unknown circumstance, but I have driven it down to a level where we believe we can safely operate the airplane.

Lesley Stahl: Why is it taking so long to find out what the problem is?

Michael Hostage: Well, if I knew what the problem was, it would be gone. I just have not found the problem yet.

Lesley Stahl: In your opinion, is the F-22 safe to fly?

Jeremy Gordon: I'm not comfortable answering that question directly. I am not comfortable flying in the F-22 right now.

Josh Wilson: I am currently not flying the aircraft.

In a rare show of defiance for Air Force officers, both men informed their command in January they were going to stop flying.

Lesley Stahl: The Air Force says there is an inherent risk in flying. Period. Any of these planes.

Josh Wilson: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: Kind of sounds like, "Man up, guys. There's a risk. Come on."

Jeremy Gordon: Absolutely there's an inherent level of risk, just like there's an inherent level of risk of driving.

Lesley Stahl: You mean if there's a mechanical risk?

Jeremy Gordon: There's a mechanical risk or even an enemy threat where I'm trained to deal with that threat. But this is something strapped to my face under which I have no control what's coming through that tube which means there may be a point when I don't have control over myself when I'm flying.

To make matters worse, some of the pilots began coughing up black sputum. Air Force doctors cut into oxygen hoses, found - as this doctor's photo shows - black residue. And determined that the new filters that were supposed to be protecting pilots were shedding charcoal and pilots were breathing it in.

Lesley Stahl: Have the doctors spoken out? Have the doctors come forward and said, "Our pilots are having serious issues here. We have to find the cause and until we do these pilots shouldn't be up there"?

Josh Wilson: Absolutely.

Jeremy Gordon: Yes.

Lesley Stahl: They have?

Josh Wilson: Absolutely.

Well, just last week the Air Force quietly removed the filters. They plan to install a new filter - date undetermined. So where does all this leave our two pilots?

Two weeks after Jeremy stopped flying, he was called in.

Jeremy Gordon: I was asked to make a decision that day whether I wanted to fly or find another line of work.

Lesley Stahl: Fly or you're out?

Jeremy Gordon: That was it.

At that point, Jeremy's Air Force doctor put him on "do not fly" status for medical reasons. In Josh's case, he's been reprimanded for not flying. His salary cut substantially, and summoned to a hearing next week.

The pilots could face further disciplinary action for speaking to us which is why this man was seated just off to the side throughout the interview. He's Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force pilot himself, who Josh and Jeremy went to with their concerns in order to gain protection under the Military Whistleblowers Act.

Lesley Stahl: So Congress passed a law for just this situation?

Adam Kinzinger: Yeah. Congress granted protection to whistleblowers in general and specifically military to say: if you have a concern, you know - not something obviously little - but something pretty big and serious, you have--

Lesley Stahl: Like this--

Adam Kinzinger: Like this -- you have a right to talk to your congressman because just 'cause you join the military doesn't mean you give up your right to citizenship.

Kinzinger thinks the Air Force is wrong to punish any pilot who doesn't want to fly for health reasons. And Josh and Jeremy are not the only Raptor pilots choosing to "stand down."

Josh Wilson: There have been squadrons that have stood down over concerns. And there's been threat of reprisals. There's been threat of flying evaluation boards clipping our wings and doing ground jobs. And, you know, in my case potentially getting booted out of the Air Force. So right now there's an example being set of, "Hey, if you speak up about safety, you're gonna be out of the organization."

For the Air Force, grounding the Raptor again would be an embarrassment. Originally the plane was touted as being more trouble-free than older fighters.

Lesley Stahl: Do you both want to see the Air Force ground this plane right now?

Jeremy Gordon: I want to see the jet fixed. Like a root cause identified--

Lesley Stahl: But do they have to ground it to find that out?

Jeremy Gordon: I don't know. I really don't know.

Lesley Stahl: Do you think they should ground the plane?

Josh Wilson: I think we grounded it for a reason, you know, back a year ago. We haven't done a single thing to fix it. So I think we need to reassess why we got back in the air in the first place.

Lesley Stahl: Do you think that a majority of the pilots would agree with you?

Jeremy Gordon: I think a vast majority, even--

Lesley Stahl: A vast majority?

Jeremy Gordon: --even though it's a silent majority.
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_16...in;contentBody
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:51 PM   #114
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If i was an american taxpayer, id be pissed.
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:29 PM   #115
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Originally Posted by snipershot View Post
If i was an american taxpayer, id be pissed.
Yea, i'm so angry that they built this jet and wasted billions of dollars on it but not mad at the 14 trillion dollar debt...
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Old 05-08-2012, 06:34 AM   #116
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Originally Posted by snipershot View Post
If i was an american taxpayer, id be pissed.
Im not... Its a great plane.. Of course new gadgets are getting more expensive but I remember when f16s had major issues
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Old 05-08-2012, 07:25 AM   #117
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Of course dinosaurs are going to have trouble with breathing and oxygen. They weren't built to fly. Not funny, not trying to be. This jet doesn't seem all that impressive. Doesn't seem to be sleek, built to last.
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:51 PM   #118
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USAF moves closer to solving Raptor oxygen woes, whistle-blower pilots won’t be punished

The US Air Force will not punish two F-22 Raptor pilots who publicly spoke out about problems with the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft's oxygen system, a senior service official tells Congress. Moreover, the USAF is getting close to solving the mystery behinds a series of hypoxia-like events that have plagued the Raptor fleet.

"We have some recent data that we are starting to believe we are coming to closure on that root cause," says Lt Gen Janet Wolfenbarger, military deputy to the USAF acquisitions chief. "We are realizing that we operate this aircraft differently than we operate any of our other fighter aircraft."

The Raptor flies higher than other fighters and also manoeuvers at high G-forces at those extreme altitudes, she says.

Under USAF regulations, the Boeing F-15 Eagles and Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcons are limited to 50,000 ft-though they rarely operate that high up. The F-22 routinely operates above 50,000 ft up to an operational ceiling of 60,000 ft. Raptor pilots receive a waiver to fly above the 50,000 ft mark-their Combat Edge anti-g ensemble is ostensibly considered to be a partial pressure suit.

60,000 ft is the limit due to the Armstrong Line, which sits at about 62,000 ft to 63,000 ft. At altitudes above the Armstrong Line the atmospheric pressure so low that water will boil at human body temperature--37 °C (98.6 °F).

The USAF has looked at hundreds of potential root causes of the problem, but the two most likely culprits are either some sort of contaminant or a problem with the oxygen flow to the pilot, Wolfenbarger says.

She insists that the Raptor is safe to fly. There have been 11 hypoxia-like incidents since the F-22 starting flying again in September, which is less than 0.1% of sorties.

Wolfenbarger says that Virginia Air National Guard pilots Captain Josh Wilson and Major Jeremy Gordon will be protected under US whistle-blower protection statues.

"My understanding is that the chief [of staff Gen Norton Schwartz] and secretary of the air force [Michael Donley] have issued direction that these individuals are protected," she says.

Meanwhile the USAF has agreed to consider future F-22 upgrades starting with Increment 3.2B as separate procurements from the acquisition of the aircraft themselves, Wolfenbarger says. That was done at the behest of the Government Accountability Office, which says those upgrades will cost $9.7 billion plus another $2 billion for airframe reliability modifications.

The USAF though has started to transition aircraft sustainment into a new joint military-contractor effort, which should save the service over $1 billion, she says.
http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...nished-371588/
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Old 05-16-2012, 02:28 PM   #119
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US restricts flights of F-22 jets over safety worries

WASHINGTON — US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the Air Force to restrict flights of its most advanced fighter jet, the F-22, after some pilots complained of dizzy spells and blackouts, officials said Tuesday.
Since 2008, officials say at least a dozen F-22 pilots have reported suffering a lack of oxygen but engineers have yet to figure out how to fix the problem.
Under Panetta's decision, the F-22 Raptor will no longer be conducting longer-range flights and would instead stay within reach of runways to ensure a pilot could land in an emergency, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
The move followed a report on CBS's "60 Minutes" program on May 6 in which two F-22 pilots said they had refused to keep flying the warplane because of safety fears. The two pilots have sought "whistleblower" legal status through a Republican lawmaker.
Little denied the television interviews triggered Panetta's announcement but said pilots' concerns "figured into his decision to direct these actions today."
"He is very concerned about pilot safety. And he wants safety concerns to be addressed at all levels of command through proper channels."
The announcement suggested the Pentagon chief was impatient with the Air Force, but Little insisted there was no disagreement.
"The secretary wants to add his muscle to this," he said.
He said that "effective immediately, all F-22 flights will remain within the proximity of potential landing locations, to enable quick recovery and landing should a pilot encounter unanticipated physiological conditions during flight."
The move meant that "long-duration airspace control flights" out of Alaska would be carried out by other aircraft, Little said, without offering further details.
Panetta also called on the Air Force to "expedite" the installation of a back-up oxygen system in the F-22 planes and to provide a monthly progress report on efforts to resolve the undiagnosed technical problem. The first back-up systems would be installed by December, officials said.

...continues
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...ab7261febd.611
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:19 PM   #120
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would instead stay within reach of runways
Um, $400,000,000 a piece so you can watch a runway...
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