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History, Geography, & Military Discuss Air Force insiders foresaw F-22 woes at the Political Forums; a lot of news on the militay equipment has come out today and this one is not good at all. ...

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Old 09-27-2012, 02:43 PM
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Default Air Force insiders foresaw F-22 woes

a lot of news on the militay equipment has come out today and this one is not good at all.

.AP IMPACT: Air Force insiders foresaw F-22 woes

By ERIC TALMADGE | Associated Press 4 hrs ago. 27 ept. 2012 ........

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AP) Years before F-22 pilots began getting dizzy in the cockpit, before one struggled to breathe as he tried to pull out of a fatal crash, before two more went on television to say the plane was so unsafe they refused to fly it, a small circle of U.S. Air Force experts knew something was wrong with the prized stealth fighter jet.

Coughing among pilots and fears that contaminants were leaking into their breathing apparatus led the experts to suspect flaws in the oxygen-supply system of the F-22 Raptor, especially in extreme high-altitude conditions in which the $190 million aircraft is without equal. They formed a working group a decade ago to deal with the problem, creating an informal but unique brain trust.

Internal documents and emails obtained by The Associated Press show they proposed a range of solutions by 2005, including adjustments to the flow of oxygen into pilot's masks. But that key recommendation was rejected by military officials reluctant to add costs to a program that was already well over budget.

"This initiative has not been funded," read the minutes of their final meeting in 2007.

Minutes of the working group's meetings, PowerPoint presentations and emails among its members reveal a missed opportunity for the Air Force to improve pilot safety in the 187-plane F-22 fleet before a series of high-profile problems damaged the image of an aircraft that was already being assailed in Congress as too costly. Its production was halted last spring and the aircraft has never been used in combat.

Among the problems reported after the working group's warnings:

In 2008, pilots began reporting a sharp increase in hypoxia-like problems, forcing the Air Force to finally acknowledge concerns about the F-22's oxygen supply system.

Two years later, the oxygen system contributed to a fatal crash. Though pilot error ultimately was deemed to be the cause, the fleet was grounded for four months in 2011.

New restrictions were imposed in May, after two F-22 pilots went on the CBS program "60 Minutes" to express their continued misgivings.

The Air Force says the F-22 is safe to fly a dozen of the jets began a six-month deployment to Japan in July but flight restrictions that remain in place will keep it out of the high-altitude situations where pilots' breathing is under the most stress.

One of the working group's proposed fixes, a backup oxygen system, is expected to be in place by the end of the year. And the Air Force, which blamed the oxygen shortage on a faulty valve in the pilots' vests, says a fix to that problem is also in the works. The working group also proposed changes in warning systems to alert pilots to system failures and urged enhanced tracking of potential health hazards to pilots and ground crew caused by the materials used to bolster the aircraft's stealth two more issues the Air Force investigations would later focus on.

More broadly, the Air Force now concedes that while its own experts were tackling the F-22's issues, it was too aggressive in cutting back on life-support programs intended to ensure pilots' safety. It is now in the process of rebuilding them.

The F-22's gradual return to regular flight operations follows an exhaustive investigation over the past year by the Air Force, NASA, experts from Lockheed Martin, which produces the aircraft, and other industry officials.

But the documents obtained by AP show many of the concerns raised in that investigation had already been outlined by the working group that was formed in 2002, when the fighter was still in its early production and delivery stage.

It called itself RAW-G, for Raptor Aeromedical Working Group, and brought together dozens of experts in life support, avionics, physiology and systems safety, along with F-22 aircrew and maintainers.

The group was founded by members of the F-22 community who were concerned about how the unique demands of the aircraft could affect pilots. The fighter can evade radar and fly faster than sound without using afterburners, capabilities unmatched by any other country. It also flies higher than its predecessors and has a self-contained oxygen generation system to protect pilots from chemical or biological attack.

According to the Air Force, RAW-G was created at the suggestion of Daniel Wyman, then a flight surgeon at Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base, where the first F-22 squadron was being deployed. Wyman is now a brigadier general and the Air Combat Command surgeon general.

By the time RAW-G got going, some pilots were already experiencing a problem called "Raptor cough" fits of chest pain and coughing dating back to 2000 that stem from the collapse of overworked air sacs in the lungs.

The group concluded that the F-22's On-Board Oxygen Generation System or OBOGS was giving pilots too much oxygen, causing the coughing. The more often and higher the pilots flew after being oxygen-saturated, group members believed, the more vulnerable pilots affected by the condition would be to other physiological incidents.

RAW-G recommended more tests and that the F-22's oxygen delivery system be adjusted through a digital controller and a software upgrade.

"The schedule would provide less oxygen at lower altitudes than the current schedule, which has been known to cause problems with delayed ear blocks and acceleration atelectasis," the technical term for the condition that leads to the coughing, according to the minutes from RAW-G's final meeting.

RAW-G members had spent two years pushing for the change in the oxygen schedule the amount of oxygen pumped into pilots' life-support systems but the necessary software upgrade never came through.

"The cost was considered prohibitive in light of other items that people wanted funded for the F-22," said Kevin Divers, a former Air Force physiologist who spearheaded RAW-G until he left the service in 2007 and the group disbanded.

Divers believes the cost would have been about $100,000 per aircraft.

The link between oxygen saturation at lower altitudes and the recent spate of hypoxia-like incidents at high altitudes remains a matter of debate, and it is likely that there are other contributing factors. Both the Air Force and the NASA, however, now concur that the F-22's oxygen schedule needs to be revised.

At a House subcommittee hearing this month, Clinton Cragg, the chief engineer for NASA's Engineering and Safety Center, said the current schedules provide too much oxygen at lower altitudes as RAW-G warned and also agreed with RAW-G that testing was insufficient "even back to the beginning of the program."
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AP IMPACT: Air Force insiders foresaw F-22 woes - Yahoo! News


Found at Asia News Headlines: Asia News Headlines - Yahoo! News

Improvise - Adapt - Over Come...
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Old 09-21-2017, 04:27 AM
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Question Re: Air Force insiders foresaw F-22 woes


Solution to F-22 hypoxia problem?...

Air Force Tests New System to Monitor for Hypoxia Problems
September 18, 2017 — The Air Force is testing a breathing and cockpit environment monitoring system developed by Cobham to provide data to address the continuing problem of pilots developing hypoxia-like symptoms.
The military “doesn’t know what’s at the root of the problem, and Cobham doesn’t either. Nobody does,” said Rob Schaeffer, business management developer for Cobham Mission Systems Division. But he said the Cobham system could help pinpoint the solution. At the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference on Monday, Schaeffer said the company had delivered eight of its inhalation monitors in June to the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) for testing. Another eight units of the exhalation monitors will be delivered to USAFSAM later this month. Schaeffer said the Navy has also shown interest in testing the systems.

The inhalation sensor block is attached to a chest-mounted breathing regulator or integrated terminal block. The exhalation sensor can sit inside a vest pocket so as not to impede the pilot's field of regard.

The latest from the U.K. defense company comes amid news that the Air Force plans to modify flight equipment for the F-35 such as the pilot vest and breathing mask, according to a report from Aviation Week. The Air Force has reduced the flight vest weight by 10 pounds to relieve chest pressure, and has moved to replace faulty exhalation valves found in the masks after testing, officials told AvWeek at the conference. Cobham’s system has inhalation and exhalation monitors that fit in a flight vest pocket. The inhalation monitor is designed to measure oxygen pressure, temperature, pressure within the breathing hose, humidity and other factors. The exhalation monitor checks oxygen pressure, expired carbon dioxide, and pressure within the mask, among other variables.

In June, the Air Force grounded some of its F-35A Joint Strike Fighters following incidents in which pilots reported hypoxia-like symptoms while flying. The groundings renewed attention on hypoxia, a physical condition caused by oxygen deficiency that may result in temporary cognitive and physiological impairment and possible loss of consciousness. In recent years, hypoxia has also affected pilots of F-22 Raptor, F/A-18 Hornet and T-45 Goshawk aircraft. The problem gained national attention in 2010 after an F-22 crashed and the pilot was killed following a suspected loss of oxygen.

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