Raptor Fleet Taking a “911 Approach”

Air Combat Command continues taking measures to closely track conditions in the F-22 cockpit to ensure the safety of Raptor pilots, some of whom have experienced hypoxia-like symptoms—as if they have insufficient oxygen in flight—in certain environments. Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, ACC’s director of operations, told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that there have been more than 10,000 Raptor sorties since last fall when F-22s returned to flight after a fleet standdown in May. To increase confidence in the safety of flight operations, the command added equipment in Raptor cockpits to measure the rate of oxygen to the pilot and the pilot’s heart rate and oxygen levels. Further, air quality is inspected via filters, said Lyons. Officials are also in the process of replacing the small ring formerly used by pilots to access the aircraft’s emergency oxygen system with a large handle, he said. The latter is more user friendly. “We have taken a ‘911-call approach,'” said Lyon of current F-22 flight operations. Whenever a pilot gets an indication that something is wrong, he is to terminate the sortie, land immediately, and meet a medical team for a battery of tests, he said. (F-22 briefing transcript)