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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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