Some pilots won't fly F-22s until cause of oxygen deprivation in cockpit solved
May 1st, 2012
11:30 AM ET

Some pilots won't fly F-22s until cause of oxygen deprivation in cockpit solved

A few pilots have told the Air Force they won't fly their expensive F-22 Raptor stealth jets because no cause has been found for oxygen deprivation incidents in the cockpit, the head of Air Combat Command for the U.S. Air Force told reporters.

The Air Force has been looking for the cause of about a dozen unexplained incidents related to hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency, with pilots, but so far has been unable to pinpoint it, Gen. Mike Hostage with Air Combat Command said in a media briefing.

Hostage noted it was a very small group of pilots who opposed flying the Raptors. Pilots began experiencing problems starting four years ago.

“For some reason, the on-board oxygen generating system and the environmental control system that feeds it may be inputting some contaminant,” Gen. Gregory Martin, a retired Air Force veteran, told CNN affiliate WAVY in Virginia.

Hostage said if a contaminant is not the problem, there may be something else hindering pilots from getting enough oxygen.

Hostage spoke at length with reporters about the issue, which has plagued the fleet since problems with the F-22’s oxygen supply system were first reported in 2008.  The jets have previously been grounded to examine the issue , but one year ago the Raptors were again cleared and allowed to fly. In January 2011,  the jets were limited to altitudes under 25,000 feet during an ongoing investigation into a November 2010 crash. Flying above that altitude could cause a pilot to black out from lack of oxygen and lose control.

"We are diligently pursuing a variety of hypotheses to try and understand and characterize the exact circumstances we've been experiencing," he said.

The Air Combat Command said it still has not identified the "root cause" of the oxygen issue, but is making progress with its investigation and hopes to soon determine the exact cause of the problem.

“The smoking gun is disassembled in a mosaic in front of us. ... At some point we’re going to have the smoking gun assembled,” Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, the director of operations for ACC, told the Air Force Times.

While Hostage said that there was certainly a concern about the group of incidents, he didn't think it was necessary to pull the entire group of jets, which have had 12,000 deployments and a total of 15,000 flight hours since September 11 and only  a handful of problems. The Air Force has also made sure to add new emergency oxygen deployment handles, should a pilot encounter any issues.

And the F-22s are still being used when needed, including  a recent deployment by the Air Force of a squadron of the Raptors to southwest Asia.

"I fully expect we'll get to a solution," Hostage said. "I won't give you a timetable, but we have made great progress to that effect and am confident we'll put this behind, we'll be able to explain it, and we'll retool the airplane to make this problem go away."

Read more on the F-22's oxygen problems:

Air Force's F-22 back in service after 4-month grounding

Air Force grounds F-22s over oxygen system concerns 

Filed under: Military • U.S. Air Force
soundoff (309 Responses)
  1. Willie12345

    Bush is at fault.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Herp Derpington

    This is clearly the fault of illegal immigrants.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. palintwit

    Very often a male teabagger will search a nearby trailer park for a female teabagger to mate with. First they must get written permission from their Queen Mother Sarah Palin. After permission is received they can spawn. Their offspring are then typically referred to as ' baggettes '.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • okkkkkkk

      I love you, lol.

      May 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      Came close to a miscarriage.

      May 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • time

      @ palintwit, baggettes? I would of thought they typically are refered such as Bobby Sue or Billy Bob etc.

      May 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • cpc65

      And this applies to F-22's or hypoxia how? Do you even read the headlines before making your random posts?

      May 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bobster26

    That's why you can't teach some things in school. You have got to be creative out-side the box along with the experience of solving these problems.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Snacklefish

    Captain Oveur: Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
    Tower voice: Tower's radio clearance, over!
    Captain Oveur: That's Clarence Oveur. Over.
    Tower voice: Over.
    Captain Oveur: Roger.
    Roger Murdock: Huh?
    Tower voice: Roger, over!
    Roger Murdock: What?
    Captain Oveur: Huh?
    Victor Basta: Who?

    May 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. berry

    The same company that designed the failure called BASE 4D the Army uses must have designed this.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jorge washinsen

    Have you noticed all the higher educated seem to land here?

    May 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jorge washinsen

    The plane is so fast it is pinning the oxygen in the tail.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. smokinbluebear

    what a joke.....HOW much do these planes cost a pice??? 4 years is a long long time with no answer to the cause of the problem...

    May 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      I think it took a few decades to get the F-16 just right.

      May 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • HeyZeus

      Agree. General Dynamics then Lockheed Martin is to blame for the FAILURE of this aircraft! 150 MILLION dollars each, of which Lockheed has taken every dime of. So far the US has given Lockheed over 65 BILLION dollars for planes that cannot take high G turns, cannot go over a certain airspeed, and cannot go above 25K feet so the pilots will not pass out.

      The taxpayers need to hold these manufacturers to a higher standard. for decades defense contractors have produced sub-standard items to be sold to the Military at inflated prices. Receipt or not, take these planes back, and get a refund of our 65 Billion. Hell, it'd be nicer towards the deficit anyways.

      May 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian

      On a related note: how much did your public education cost? Spell correctly, and then maybe you can comment on wasteful spending.

      May 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. smokinbluebear

    what a joke.....HOW much do these planes cost a piece??? 4 years is a long long time with no answer to the cause of the problem...

    May 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe d.

      these planes are at a cost of 450 million dollars each !

      May 1, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TomGI

    It's related to global warming, I'm certain of it.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. robert

    If I am not mistaken those raptors cost 100,000.000 each and the pilots cost 2,000.000 each to train.Eisenhower said "beware of the military industrial complex" and i wouldn't be suprised if military spending comprises the majority of the national debt. America does need a strong military but between the navy, which builds 10 ships a year at present and covers 70% of the globe on any given day. Enough said! If they can't figure out why the pilots are at risk from suffocation for the price they charge for that plane they should get a refund!

    May 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • George100

      A scientist costs 4 million in training but they are going to china!

      May 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Your cost estimate is off by a few 0's. The cost of a single F-22 is approx. $150,000,000.00

      May 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BalUchistan

    Well, that's a great issue to let our enemies know about.
    What is the mainStreeeem media doing?

    Different subject –
    I read yesterday on Iran's state-run [one of them] news that a high ranking officer says any missile fired towards Iran will never hit it's target. They said they had the technology to turn it around and make it hit any object it directs it's to!
    Iranian people, you are highly intelligent Doctors, Engineers, successful.
    Your government is embarrassing you folks with their propaganda. When will be your spring?

    [ I am not Jewish]

    May 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. NetNinja

    4 years ago they started complaining and they still haven't found out what the issue is? I guess it takes 4 airplane crashes at 160 Million a pop to get thier attention. Forget the pilots. Those things cost money.

    The oxygen system installed on the aircraft may not be providing enough flow. I guess they had to reinvent the wheel with a new Oxygen dilvery system for this type of aircraft.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cpc65

    General Hostage. I just wanted to say that.

    May 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
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