F-22 grounding may soon be lifted
It sounds like the F-22s are coming back, but that doesn’t mean the Air Force has determined what caused pilots to return from flying with antifreeze in their blood and propane in their lungs. Defense News is reporting that the four-month grounding of the F-22 fleet will soon be lifted and that a meeting scheduled last Friday would determine if there would be any restrictions that remain on the Raptors.
The fleet was grounded because of pilots reporting symptoms of hypoxia, which is a loss of oxygen that results in decreased brain function. The effects were serious enough that pilots were skimming the tops of trees while landing and forgetting how to use their radio.
Some people initially thought that a malfunction with the On-Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS) was the root of the problem, and there were also questions about whether running the Raptors’ engines indoors before flights might have been causing chemicals to get into the pilots’ air supply.
As Defense News reports, the OBOGS problem hasn’t been solved, but the Raptors will no longer be running their engines indoors. An unnamed source told Defense News that the risks had been mitigated enough to allow the F-22s to fly.
Initially the OBOGS were also suspected in a fatal November 2010 crash in Alaska of an F-22. But now that the snows have cleared and investigators were able to get to the crash site, they have determined that oxygen problems did not cause the crash. The cause of the crash has not been released.
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