Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Note From AFA President -- F-22 (again)

I’ve read a few of the responses I’ve gotten from my F-22 notes from last week … and I would like to make a few corrections.
First, almost every aircraft – including large aircraft -- have, historically, had hypoxia problems.  The causes vary from human mistake, G-induced loss of consciousness, contaminants, breathing, and many, many others.  Seldom is it just one issue.
Secondly, the Air Force and Navy have had on board oxygen generating systems in many aircraft for many years.  The systems are designed to reduce weight, reduce deployed people and equipment, and limit handling issues.  The systems also have flown many millions of hours without incident or malfunction.
Third, I think I heard from nearly every AFA member who flew or had flown the F-18.  They were proud of their aircraft and (rightly) complained that I threw the F-18 “under-the-bus” … That was not my intent.  My intent was to show that the ABC piece was slanted and biased [“We only need it when the Taliban gets an Air Force … and it is only good for flying air shows.]  … As an Airpower advocate in the largest sense, I know better …
Fourth, it’s probably inaccurate to think that the Oxygen system in the F-22 is at fault for hypoxia in the aircraft.  If it were that simple, then the Air Force would have fixed it by now.  The ACC commander was quoted on 60 Minutes last Sunday as saying, “If … [we] … knew what the problem was, it would be gone.  … [We] … just have not found the problem yet.”  It is clear that there may be multiple causes for the hypoxia incidents that have emerged. 
Almost all of you commented on Sen McCain’s comments.  While I believe they were unprofessional, I need to point out that interviews are not often very short.  Many times there are edits … and it is possible that there was context around his comments that were edited out of the final airing.
Finally, many of you told me you did not see the 60 Minute piece.  For those of you who missed it, a transcript can be found at:  http://www.afa.org/EdOp/2012/CBS-60-Minutes.pdf
For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association
"The only thing more expensive than a first-rate Air Force is … a second-rate Air Force."  --  Senate staff member


Colonel Bruce said...

The F-16 also had problems with O2. Possibilities include: At certain altitudes, attitudes, air pressures, moisture contents, and/or position of the intake and geometry of the intake, and or sensor data for closed loop feedback, insufficient air is entering the aircraft. Temporary icing can close the intake but would not be discovered upon landing. The sensor may have defective software for certain flight characteristics. Pressure differentials could cause leakage of engine fumes into air intake under certain flight conditions. The AF should put the plane through a series of tests with these parameters, adding an independent set of sensors for air pressure, moisture, etc. Do not overlook the helmet air hose connectivity and pressure requirements on the helmet. The North American SabreLiner had an annoying habit of breaking the pressure seal on the side entry door due to icing, causing sudden cabin decompression. When the ice melted, the door did not reseal.
These types of engineering snafus have to be found, but require clever and thorough scientific investigation.

Anonymous said...

Its evident our pilots are experiencing oxygen starvation! So first install a camera focused on the pilot. Then think about using the oxygen system used on the U-2's(for test purposes). Two are these oxygen units located in pressurized compartments(it is evident that these oxygen filters are clogged from the pressure of the G-Forces or altitude). Carbon filters should be a no-no. Get an engineer that is qualified to solve this problem. Good Luck and may Our Pilots soar with the Grace of an Eagle!

Col Bill said...

Alaskan F-22 Accident Report did not refer to cabin altitude after ECS failure nor Time of Usefull Consciousness (TUC) for cabin altitudes after ECS failure. Impact of ECS malfunctions/ failures on cabin altitude and OBOGGS not addressed. If a significant amount of ASC,AFRL, AFFTC, and contractor resources are not focused on ID of fundamental problem(s), then time to do so. Never had a problem with LOX systems in 4000 hrs in F-4 & T-38 but experienced numerous ECS problems. F-22 ECS powers OBOGGS. Must compare ECS/OBOGGS subsystem differences/performance/environment/air quality/life support equipment/human factors with other platforms in most minute detail.

Captain Michael W. Rea said...

In my 4,300 hours flying time, flying LOX and GOX systems, I never had any problems. T-38 never a problem, even with regular 50,000+ feet excursions, high "G" maneuvering and rapid up/down verticals, never a problem.

I have a feeling this software computer driven F-22 is one step beyond reality, when reality will dictate mission success or failure. We can't afford failure.

Ref. Colonel Bruce comment; wasn't it the USS Thresher that went down because ice froze-up the valves and strainers when the compressed air was released to blow the main ballast tanks in order to perform an emergency surface?

Robert Barrett said...

General Dunn,

It does not matter what the truth is both ABC and CBS are, unfortunately, in the drivers seat. The can say what ever the like, and not present what you or I correctly and truthfully believe in regard to the F-22, its capabilities and (if any short comings), they are simply concerned with selling advertisements (e.g, beer). I fear they do not care what the truth is as long as they can downplay the military. In part because the public claims the military is held in higher regard than the national news media. As long as their producers and editors control what the people see we will never be able to present the truth.

Anonymous said...


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