Stealth Support

The 411th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., played an instrumental role in the Air Force-wide efforts to get the F-22 fleet cleared to fly after a grounding went into effect over pilot safety concerns. “Basically we turned over every single rock we thought to turn over; we wanted to take a real broad-brush approach to ensure we answered all questions,” said Maj. Chris Keithley, 411th FLTS F-22 test pilot. Air Combat Command stood down the F-22 fleet on May 3, following 12 reported incidents in which pilots experienced hypoxia-like symptoms—as if they were receiving an inadequate oxygen supply. The squadron spent 12 weeks evaluating the issue, designing a series of tests, and modifying F-22 test aircraft in order to support the Air Force’s safety investigation board and the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. The squadron then flew 15 F-22 sorties in four weeks in order to collect real-time oxygen data. Information that the squadron provided to the SIB and AFSAB helped Air Combat Command authorize the fleet’s return to flight on Sept.19. (Edwards report by Kenji Thuloweit)