USAF to Fix F-22 Raptor Onboard Oxygen Generator Issues by Year's End
August 1, 2012 9:16 AM
Faulty valve could contribute to hypoxia-like symptoms experienced by some pilots
The United States Air Force's premier air superiority fighter is the F-22 Raptor. However, the F-22 has had problems over the last few years with pilots at times experiencing
during flight. The F-22 fleet was grounded while an investigation into the problem was conducted.
Ultimately, USAF found no hard evidence on what was causing the symptoms in some pilots and the aircraft were returned to the skies with no fixes applied.
The Air Force has now announced that after further review, it has discovered a faulty valve on the pressurized vests F-22 pilots wear during flights. The valve will be replaced by the end of the year and pilots are currently not wearing the pressurized vests during flights. The move to replace the valve and ban the vests from being worn currently is an attempt to help address some pilot complaints of nausea and dizziness while operating the fighter.
The valve in question connects the plane's onboard oxygen generation system to the vest and inflates the vest to protect pilots during high G maneuvers. However, the valve has a flaw because the vests to be constantly inflated even when the aircraft is operating at lower altitudes where the vest wasn't required.
"It [the vest] restricts his breathing, it restricts his ability to do normal inhalation and exhalation. ... The pressurization schedule in the F-22 inflates prematurely, so we removed this,” Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon said at a Pentagon briefing Tuesday. Lyon is the director of operations for Air Combat Command. Air Force officials believe that the pressure on the chest of the pilot due to the faulty valve could cause the symptoms of hypoxia that some pilots are experiencing.
reports that within the next month the USAF will start testing a new valve that will provide more tension and restrict airflow into the pressure vests until the airflow is needed.
Lyon also went on to say that there was no evidence that the faulty valve contributed to the fatal F-22 crash resulting in the
death of pilot
Capt. Jeff "Bong" Haney.
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