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One pilot appears to have suffered an oxygen related issue during a flight

The F-22 Raptor fighter has only in the last month or so come off an extended grounding after issues arose that gave pilots hypoxia-like symptoms. The USAF didn’t actually like to use the term “grounded”. Rather it used the term "stand-down" to describe the F-22 fleet, which wasn’t allowed to fly while an investigation into the aircraft's oxygen systems was conducted.
 
On September 20, the stand down was lifted and the Raptors were allowed to operate at altitudes above 50,000 feet. There was a provision put into the lift that would allow individual commanders to place their F-22 fleets on stand down if they felt there was a safety issue that needed to be investigated. This allowed the remainder of the F-22 fleet operating at other bases to continue flights.
 
That right for a commander to place their fleet of F-22 fighters on stand down has been exercised at the 1st Fighter Wing, joint base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. The wing's commander, Col. Kevin Robbins, made the decision to place his Raptors on stand down.

 Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor [Source: Lockheed Martin]

The full details on the cause for the stand down are not available right now. However, Air Force officials have confirmed according to Defense News that one of the wing's Raptor pilots appears to have suffered from hypoxia-like oxygen related issue.

A spokesman for the U.S. Air Force released the following statement regarding the stand-down according to WAVY-TV:
 
As the Air Force Chief of Staff has said with respect to the decision to return the F-22 to Flight operations, there is no conclusive cause or group of causes that has been established for the incidents that prompted the stand down earlier this year. We've therefore made the decision to resume operations while implementing improvements to the aircraft's life support systems and carefully collecting and analyzing operational maintenance and physiological data for all Raptor flights, more than 1,300 missions since the return to flight. Part of our protocol is to allow units to pause operations whenever they need to analyze information collected from flight operations to ensure safety. That is what is happening at Langley at the moment and we support that decision.
 
The investigation into the Raptor oxygen system is still being conducted. The modifications to allow the Raptors to return to the skies included things like the addition of carbon filters in the oxygen circuit for pilots and the pilots were forced to wear a pulse oximeter. The pilots were also requires to give baseline blood samples to compare to if there was an incident.
 
It remains to be seen if this incident will give new support to the portion of the flight community that didn’t want to see the Raptors return to flight status until. A portion of those involved in the decision to return the F-22 to flight wanted the fleet to remain on stand-down until cause for the oxygen related issues was found.

Sources: Defense News, WAVY-TV





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