F-22 Pilots Told to Stop Wearing Pressure Vest Routinely
By David Lerman – Jun 13, 2012 9:50 AM GMT-0700
The U.S. Air Force has instructed pilots of the F-22 Raptor to stop wearing a pressure vest during routine flights as the service continues to investigate oxygen- deprivation incidents on the Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) fighter jet.
“Recent testing has identified some vulnerability and reliability issues in the upper pressure garment worn by F-22 pilots,” Lieutenant Colonel Edward Sholtis, a spokesman for the Air Combat Command, said today in an e-mailed statement. He said the Air Force is working to correct the problem.
The Air Force has been trying to figure out why F-22 pilots have suffered from hypoxia-like symptoms that include dizziness and disorientation. There have been 11 unexplained incidents related to a lack of oxygen since the plane resumed flying last year after a four-month halt for safety concerns.
“The upper pressure garment is not ‘the’ cause of physiological incidents, and we still have other variables to work through before we can determine what the major factors are and how they interact to produce the number of unexplained incidents we’ve seen,” Sholtis said.
The Air Force has been studying whether pilots are getting enough oxygen and whether the air is contaminated.
The pressure vest is the upper portion of the “G suit,” a flight suit worn by pilots and astronauts to withstand high levels of acceleration, or “G” forces.