Defense

May 10, 2012

Medical official explains F-22 pilot-protection efforts

Tags:
by Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

Air Force officials have instituted measures designed to protect its pilots, ensure mission completion and assess the possible physiological effects of flying the F-22 Raptor, the command surgeon for Air Combat Command said May 9.

“The health and safety of our pilots — all of our pilots — is the utmost priority,” said Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Daniel O. Wyman. “Our operational flight surgeons and medical staff interact with our pilots on a daily basis, and mission No. 1 is their health and safety.”

Before resuming F-22 flights in September 2011 after a safety stand-down, Wyman said, officials collected baseline blood samples and pulmonary function tests from every pilot.

“We had every pilot go through retraining with the reduced oxygen breathing device so that they would experience and know their own specific ‘hypoxia symptoms,’” he said, adding that the command also incorporated a pilot pulse oximeter and the C2A1 filter as protective measures.

Designed and certified by the Defense Department for the chemical warfare environment, Wyman said, the C2A1 filter canister was incorporated into the pilot’s life support system to filter any potential contaminants from the air they breathed. The filter has been tested against military and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health protocols and found to be effective against a number of different chemical warfare and industrial chemicals.

“It was cleared for flight use by the U.S. Air Force program office and has been used by the military for over a decade in the ground crew and aircrew ensembles,” he added.

For each flight, the pilot would receive a new C2A1 filter consisting of a high-efficiency particulate, or HEPA, air filter and activated carbon and charcoal, Wyman said, and they turned in the filters at the end of each flight.

Once flying resumed, Wyman said, a black dust was found in some of the breathing hoses near the C2A1 filter.

“We analyzed it and found it to be activated carbon dust … an inert or nonreactive compound that has been used for air and water filtration for decades without any significant evidence of harm,” Wyman said.

Filter test results indicated the amount of activated carbon dust liberated during normal use was well below the industrial hygiene standard levels set by government agencies, the command surgeon said. Thirty pilot throat swab samples examined by electron microscope also indicated no evidence of activated carbon, he added.

Still, some Raptor pilots have reported suffering persistent coughing, which Wyman maintained may stem from high concentrations of oxygen while undergoing spiked G-forces during maneuvering. These conditions, he said, may result in adsorption of the oxygen – adhesion of a small layer of molecules – and subsequent microcollapse of some of the small air sacs in the lungs.

“Coughing is a natural physiologic response that serves to re-inflate the air sacs,” Wyman said, noting the condition typically occurs following the flight and is brief in duration.

Air Combat Command officials have implemented a “recognize-confirm-recover” approach to fortify safety measures, Wyman said. In addition to training that helps ensure pilots can more readily recognize hypoxia or hypoxia-like symptoms, fliers can also pull an emergency oxygen ring, then descend to an altitude at which hypoxia would not occur, he said.

Wyman stressed that the command will continue to evaluate for other potential contaminates or environmental or aircraft system factors through the use of sensors and other collection devices. No root cause has yet been discovered, he said.

“Every step of the way during the F-22 return-to-fly, we have worked with our pilots and all of our personnel involved to inspect the fleet, train the force, protect the crews and collect and analyze data,” Wyman said.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 30, 2014

News: Software to power F-35 running as much as 14 months late¬†- Software needed to operate Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet, the Pentagon’s costliest weapons system, may be as much as 14 months late for required flight testing, according to a Pentagon review.   Business: Lockheed will turn on JLTV production line In August; 6-D truck...
 
 

News Briefs July 30, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,197 As of July 29, 2014, at least 2,197 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,819 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Tom Reynolds

F-35B successfully completes wet runway, crosswind testing

Lockheed Martin photograph by Tom Reynolds F-35B aircraft BF-4, piloted by Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Dan Levin, starts down the runway as part of wet runway and crosswind testing at Edwards AFB, Calif. In an important program ...
 

 
boeing-chinook

Boeing delivers first U.S. Army multiyear II configured Chinook

Boeing July 29 delivered the first multiyear II configured CH-47F Chinook helicopter to the U.S. Army one month ahead of schedule. The delivery was celebrated in a ceremony at the production facility in Ridley Township, Penn. ‚...
 
 
Army photograph by SSgt. Angela Stafford

Engineers developing safer, more accurate tracer round

Army photograph Tracer rounds enable the shooter to follow the projectile trajectory to make aiming corrections. However, the light emitted by these rounds also gives away the position of the shooter. Engineers at Picatinny Ars...
 
 
NASA photograph by Carla Thomas

Katherine Lott awarded NASA Armstrong employee scholarship

NASA photograph by Carla Thomas Katherine Lott, the recipient of the 2014 NASA Armstrong Employee Exchange Council Joseph R. Vensel Memorial Scholarship, is congratulated by NASA Armstrong center director David McBride. Flankin...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>