F-22 Pilots Still Report Hypoxia-like Symptoms

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There has been a recent spike in reports of hypoxia-like symptoms by pilots of the F-22 Raptor -- an oxygen delivery problem on a Raptor contributed to a fatal crash two years ago. Over the past six months nine pilots have reported hypoxia-like symptoms while flying the roughly $147 million (excluding development costs) per-copy jet. Three of those incidents were reported in the last two weeks by pilots at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska -- the same base associated with the fatal crash.

According to the Air Force, the pilot of the crash aircraft became distracted when his oxygen system stopped delivering oxygen, but hypoxia was not to blame. In May, 2011, following at least a dozen pilots reporting hypoxia-like symptoms, the Air Force grounded the jets. Nearly five months of investigation failed to identify a clear problem and in September 2011, the Air Force allowed its fleet of roughly 180 F-22 Raptors back into the air. At Elmendorf-Richardson, two of the three most recent incidents led pilots to activate backup emergency oxygen systems. The F-22s were subsequently grounded one day for review and were returned to service the next day.