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Flight restrictions lifted for F-22 fighters equipped with new automatic oxygen backup system

The United States Air Force’s F-22 Raptor air superiority fighters have been the subject of flight restrictions since May of 2012. These flight restrictions were part of a response to hypoxia-like symptoms some pilots experienced during flights.

The United States Air Force had expected a fix for the onboard oxygen generator, which is suspected to be part of the problem causing the hypoxia-like symptoms in some pilots, by the end of 2012. This led to flight restrictions being placed on F-22 fighters that limited them to operation within 30 miles of a safe landing area.

The United States Air Force Air Combat Command announced this week that those restrictions mandated by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in May of 2012 have finally been lifted. The affected F-22s have been retrofitted with an automatic backup oxygen system instead of the previous manual system. The Air Force expects the new oxygen system to be installed on all F-22 fighters by July 2014.
fatal F-22 crash in Alaska in November 2010 occurred after the pilot was unable to activate the manual backup oxygen system. In that fatal accident the Air Force ruled that while the onboard oxygen generation system in the Raptor had failed, pilot error was the ultimate cause of the crash because of the pilot's inability to activate the backup oxygen system.

Last July, investigators announced that the primary cause of these hypoxia symptoms was a leaky valve in the Combat Edge life-support vest. The investigators said that the leaking valve caused the vest to inflate unnecessarily at lower altitudes, restricting the pilot's ability to breathe. Those problematic valves were replaced in January.

Source: Defense News

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By laweijfmvo on 4/5/2013 10:48:33 AM , Rating: 5
the timing has nothing to do with the idea that the u.s. may want to use these jets if the situation in north korea worsens.

RE: coincidence
By FaaR on 4/5/2013 11:09:22 AM , Rating: 5
Purely a coincidence, yes.

RE: coincidence
By Cypherdude1 on 4/6/2013 4:25:21 PM , Rating: 2
I sure hope they know what they're doing. The F-22 is very expensive. At $356,684,491.979 a copy, every time they lose one, it seriously hurts the Defense budget:
Program cost: US$66.7 billion/187 operational aircraft=
$356,684,491 & 98¢

RE: coincidence
By MADAOO7 on 4/8/2013 4:53:56 PM , Rating: 2
You're math isn't correct. First off, production ended in 2011 on the F-22, so if you lose one, you lose one. We can no longer replace them at any cost.

When they were being built, they did not cost $356 million a copy. The program as a whole has cost north of $74 billion to date. With that said, much of that is a sunk cost for R&D. The actual unit cost for the last 60 F-22's made was $137 million.

RE: coincidence
By MADAOO7 on 4/8/2013 4:55:33 PM , Rating: 2
Meant "Your math is not correct."

RE: coincidence
By Yofa on 4/5/13, Rating: -1
RE: coincidence
By MechanicalTechie on 4/7/13, Rating: 0
RE: coincidence
By Nfarce on 4/7/2013 8:37:18 PM , Rating: 2
Only one ape has been chest thumping there you brainiacs, and that's the fat little troglodyte running North Korea. They want a unified Korea, communist-dictatorship DPRK style (and I always have to laugh with those freaks saying "democratic" in most of their titles on everything of importance and power).

They've already shelled a South Korean island, sunk a South Korean Navy ship, and launched missiles over Japan. They want war. It's about time we give them what they have been asking for once and for all. Shut those unicorn-worshipping freaks the hell up once and for all.

RE: coincidence
By MechanicalTechie on 4/7/2013 9:54:39 PM , Rating: 1
You are aware that chest beating is NOT a mutually exclusive affair. I think 99.9% of people would agree that the leaders of N.K are tapped in the head but pushing for a war is not the answer.
The deep mistrust and the overwhelming forces against N.K makes them overact. Let them run their country into the ground, they know if they attack S.K, U.S or Japan its game over. Best thing to do is not provoke with massive miltary games on their front door.

RE: coincidence
By Reclaimer77 on 4/7/2013 11:38:51 PM , Rating: 2
Amazing how history repeats itself due to thinking like this.

No offense of course but every time that's been tried, leaving despots and dictators alone in the naive hope everything will be okay, it has failed.

Categorizing what the US has done as some kind of escalation, after being directly threatened and told in no uncertain terms "we WILL nuke you", is laughable. Are you serious?

but pushing for a war is not the answer.

Like it or not it's the only answer North Korea is pushing us into.

RE: coincidence
By MechanicalTechie on 4/8/2013 1:56:21 AM , Rating: 2
Their is a difference between installing anti-missile defence systems and flying B2 bombers across the pacific in a mock exercise to bomb the country.

N.K is fully aware of the nuclear deterrence of the US and sending the bomber over was nothing more than a provocative act.

Much better to not scoop to N.K level.. only doing so will encourage mistrust.

RE: coincidence
By ianweck on 4/8/2013 4:12:17 PM , Rating: 2
We've been not "scooping" for over 50 years.

RE: coincidence
By Reclaimer77 on 4/8/2013 9:39:13 PM , Rating: 1

RE: coincidence
By MechanicalTechie on 4/9/2013 2:27:28 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong? Seems like your getting too many of your 'facts' from Fox News.

RE: coincidence
By Manch on 4/9/2013 4:21:38 AM , Rating: 2
and where do you get your "facts"?

Here's the thing. NK has escalated by threatening the use of nukes and invasion. SK has no tactical nukes, but they are under the protection of our Nuclear Umbrella. The B2 is part of our nuclear deterrence and the purpose of the fly over is to let them know in a very real way that we can reach out and touch them from anywhere. We also have an agreement w/ SK that if NK invades we will be standing right beside them to repel the attack and defeat NK. This has been this way since the armistice and is nothing new. We're not escalating anything. If anything NK has escalated in recent years with missile tests, shelling a SK island killing SK Marines, civilians, and sinking one of there ships. We have to make it known in a very real way that we are prepared to counter anything they may attempt.

RE: coincidence
By MattCoz on 4/5/2013 12:26:34 PM , Rating: 5
Add to that the re-release of Jurassic Park today. I like to imagine Kim Jong-un as the kid at the dig site.

"That's when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the two Raptors you didn't even know were there."

RE: coincidence
By synapse46 on 4/5/2013 1:10:42 PM , Rating: 3
Curious what they use these for anyways, besides flybys at airshows.

RE: coincidence
By Kazinji on 4/6/2013 8:09:34 AM , Rating: 2
F-22 Raptor is the replacement for the F-15 Eagle. F-15 Eagle is US Air to Air combat plane. It's sole purpose is air combat, F-15 has shot down 200+ planes without losing any. Pretty sure the F-15 and F-22 are US only planes. Unlike the F-35 Lightning multipurpose plane, which has many countries involved in develop and purchasing planes.

RE: coincidence
By Jedi2155 on 4/6/2013 5:35:45 PM , Rating: 2
The F-15 are available in a multitude of other countries:


and the F15E is available in:

South Korea
Saudi Arabia

RE: coincidence
By Nfarce on 4/7/2013 8:44:06 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you. I was about to post that. Also, Japan builds their own F-15s under license, called the F-15J. Not sure about other nations.

RE: coincidence
By Manch on 4/8/2013 6:22:44 AM , Rating: 2
Aside from some Japan specific avionics, the J's are equivalent to our A's. Made by Mitsubishi tho. Also check out their F2's Looks like an F16, but it's a bit different. Honestly you wouldn't notice the difference unless they were sitting side by side, or you heard them taking off. The F2's are LOUD!

By drycrust3 on 4/5/2013 6:30:36 PM , Rating: 2
In that fatal accident the Air Force ruled that while the onboard oxygen generation system in the Raptor had failed, pilot error was the ultimate cause of the crash because of the pilot's inability to activate the backup oxygen system.

I just hope the family and friends of this pilot know the truth is their son (or daughter) died because of incompetent managers.

RE: Balderdash.
By A11 on 4/5/2013 8:53:15 PM , Rating: 2
How so?

RE: Balderdash.
By blazeoptimus on 4/5/2013 11:32:16 PM , Rating: 4
Well, because one of the last things you'd want a pilot to worry about is weather his oxygen supply is working. Obviously the Air Force themselves felt like the plane presented to great a risk or they wouldn't have placed such heavy restrictions on its use. By declaring it pilot error they can deflect some of the criticism of the plane. IMO, it seems like this was more of the driving force behind the decision than the actual cause. A manual system begs for failure since you may only have seconds to activate it. You'd have to realize there was a problem, and then activate the system before you passed out. The margin for error here is to great. So yeah, the pilot erred, but he was pretty much setup for failure by the poor design decisions that went into the aircraft. Thus, pinning the blame on him has more of the appearance of a playing politics (or the blame game) then actual truth or justice.

RE: Balderdash.
By Solandri on 4/6/2013 4:06:13 PM , Rating: 3

If you read the sequence of events, I don't see where the pilot erred. He was at 50,000 feet when the oxygen generator and pressurization cut out. At that altitude, no oxygen and no pressure = unconscious in 10-15 seconds. There's so little natural oxygen at that pressure that it's essentially the same as being exposed to a hard vacuum. (And to address a comment in that old article, no you can't hold your breath. First you couldn't react fast enough before the air was already gone out of your lungs. And second even if you just happened to be holding your breath just prior to depressurization, the approx 13 psi pressure difference would cause your chest to explode.)

In those 10-15 seconds, the pilot did the correct thing - pointed the plane down so he could get into thicker air which had sufficient oxygen to keep him alive. Unfortunately it seems he fell unconscious soon thereafter (little to no input on the controls for 39 seconds). This was followed by a hard 7.5g maneuver shortly before impacting the ground, which would be consistent with him waking up just before impact and trying to pull the plane out of the dive. He probably should've ejected, but you're pretty groggy when you wake up from oxygen deprivation. So his trained automatic functions (fly the plane) probably kicked in before his cognitive functions (decide whether or not to sacrifice the plane and eject) woke up sufficiently to make that decision.

The USAF blamed the accident on the pilot on the basis of those 39 seconds of little to no control inputs. But he was most likely unconscious during that time due the oxygen generator and pressurization system failure.

RE: Balderdash.
By Reclaimer77 on 4/6/2013 7:27:50 PM , Rating: 1
He had 15-20 seconds to activate the backup system. In fighter plane time, that's an eternity. The pilot clearly did not properly identify his symptoms, and thus he died due to incompetence.

Flying a fighter plane isn't like riding a bike down the street. Things can go wrong, and go wrong FAST. And it's up to your skill, and your ample training to make the right call.

In those 10-15 seconds, the pilot did the correct thing - pointed the plane down so he could get into thicker air which had sufficient oxygen to keep him alive.

Uh no, that was absolutely the WRONG thing to do. He didn't have time for that, not nearly enough time. He made the wrong call. He should have activated his backup oxygen first. In fact I can guarantee you this was drilled into his head as the first step before attempting a descent.

Instead of cooking up conspiracy theories about the Air Force "covering up" stuff, we need to understand they have far different expectations of their pilots than civilians do of their planes. That's the harsh reality of military life. If the checklist says to activate a backup system, and you don't, it's on YOU. Plain and simple.

If he had enough air and time to put the plane in a dive, he damn sure had enough time to flick a switch. One that would have saved his life. I'm not trying to sound harsh, I realize a man died, but that's the way it goes in his occupation.

RE: Balderdash.
By blazeoptimus on 4/6/2013 10:49:54 PM , Rating: 2
You make a good argument, and nobody's screaming conspiracy. Most of the people here have cried 'foul', and for good reason. As you said, the pilot missed a step on his checklist, plain and simple. The military ruled 'pilot error' - cased closed,,,,,,except - they did everything but ground one of there most prized aircraft so that no pilot could ever 'error' in the same way again. That means that at some level the Air Force realized the requirements on the pilots were to great, ergo the pilot is not to blame. I realize that these pilots are held to a high standard for there hundreds of millions dollars aircraft, but its also important to remember that this isn't an Apollo crew that has every possible failure contingency hammered into there heads.

RE: Balderdash.
By Manch on 4/8/2013 8:24:44 AM , Rating: 2
All of the Apollo crews were required to be military trained pilots. EPs are hammered into the heads of mil pilots. I'd argue that training for todays pilots are far more intense than it was for the Apollo crews

Both of you may find this article interesting:

Silly people
By Fidget on 4/5/2013 11:53:57 AM , Rating: 3
There's nothing wrong with the plane, the pilots are just holding it wrong!

RE: Silly people
By wiz220 on 4/5/2013 1:40:28 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, Stephen P. Jobs would have had this problem solved on day one!

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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