Hypoxia Issues Causing The Career-Threatening Decision
Some Air Force pilots say they will not fly the F-22 Raptor while problems with the oxygen system remain unresolved, even though the move could cost them their careers. Pilots who refuse such orders face disciplinary action as severe as discharge from the service.
There are 200 pilots qualified to fly the F-22 at seven bases across the country, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The Air Force did not say how many had refused to fly the airplane.
The Raptor's supplemental oxygen system has been the focus of a years-long investigation. Some pilots have reported symptoms of Hypoxia, which can lead to blurred vision, nausea, and even blackouts. Dozens of such incidents have been noted, and the entire fleet of F-22s was grounded for five months while an investigation was conducted. The Air Force was not able to say definitely what caused the Hypoxia symptoms in the plane's pilots. The Raptor was returned to service in September of last year, and the Air Force says 11 incidents have been reported since that time.
The Air Force has called in help from agencies like NASA in an effort to determine the nature of the problem. At $422 million per copy, the U.S. Congress is also paying very close attention to the progress of the investigation.