USAF Scientific Board Says F-22 Pilot Safety a Priority
Air Force leaders provided an update on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board study into the F-22 Raptor life support systems and flight operations during a briefing in the Pentagon March 29.
Retired Gen. Gregory Martin, an aviator and a former commander of two major commands, chaired the nine member SAB team which studied the aircrafts' on-board oxygen generation systems and briefed its findings and recommendations in trying to determine a root cause for pilots experiencing unexplained physiological events with the F-22 Raptor.
"From April 2008 until May 2011, the Air Force experienced 14 physiological incidents with the fleet of F-22s," Martin said. "Each incident was investigated, and of those incidents, 10 did not reveal a root cause."
It was the unexplained nature of those incidents that gave the Air Force concern and led the Secretary of the Air Force to ask for a broad area review which the SAB conducted, he added.
"We were unable to determine a root cause, but we were able to put in place the proper safety measures and risk mitigation techniques that would allow the F-22 fleet to return to fly...to ensure the integrity of the life support system," Martin said. "We went from ground test to flight test to a return to fly phase, and moving into a transition phase."
The advisory board made nine findings and 14 recommendations based on a seven-month study of the F-22's evolution - from conception and acquisition through current flight operations - which the Air Force can use to move forward.
Martin said the findings and recommendations fall into three main areas; the acquisition processes and policies, the organizational structure recommendations and equipment recommendations to not only protect the pilots and crew members today but also for the future.
"Some of the things we recommended give us a much better understating of the pilots' performance in those environments that we have not operated in before," Martin said. "It will further our understanding of the aviation physiology of operating in that environment."
Source: Air Force News|by Mitch Gettle - April 01, 2012
Photo: An USAF F-22 Raptor over Nevada (US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)