Better Safe Than Sorry

Air Force officials could not identify any contaminant or any other common reason why F-22 ground personnel reported experiencing hypoxia-like symptoms in six incidents while servicing the stealth jets, said Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, Air Combat Command’s operations director. Further, investigators found nothing linking these incidents to the now-identified causes of hypoxia-like symptoms that some Raptor pilots experienced in the F-22 cockpit, he told reporters during a July 31 Pentagon briefing. Instead, Lyon thinks the maintainers, following strict guidance that he himself issued, reported to their superiors at the first sign of not feeling well. The symptoms they reported could have had many origins other than strictly hypoxia, he said. “There’s a chance that their diet wasn’t right that day, that they didn’t have the hydration level that they needed, or something else was going on,” explained Lyon. In some cases, the ground personnel “had jet exhaust kind of blowing back on them,” which could easily make someone feel queasy, he said. Lyon said he stood by his guidance, saying it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to airmen’s safety. (Lyon transcript) (For more from Lyon’s briefing, see We Now Have an Explanation.)