15 May 2012 | USAF News
Panetta orders Air Force to take further steps on F-22
With safety remaining his top concern, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has ordered the Air Force to take additional steps to mitigate risks to F-22 pilots, George Little, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said May 15 during a Pentagon news conference.
Beginning in 2008, a few pilots experienced hypoxia-like symptoms when flying the aircraft, Little said. Hypoxia is a deficiency of oxygen. There have been a total of 12 cases of these hypoxia-like symptoms affecting pilots.
Little said the secretary has followed developments in the F-22 closely and has directed the Air Force to expedite the installation of an automatic backup oxygen system in all of the planes.
In addition, effective immediately, all F-22 flights will remain near potential landing locations to enable quick recovery and landing should a pilot encounter unanticipated physiological conditions during flight, Little said.
Finally, Panetta directed the Air Force to provide him with a monthly progress report as the service continues the search for the root cause of the problem.
These steps are in addition to the measures the Air Force is already taking to determine the root causes of the hypoxia-like symptoms pilots have experienced.
Panetta made this decision in part due to the reluctance of some pilots to fly the aircraft, Little said.
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