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November 19, 2012

Safety paramount as F-22 investigation continues

Wreckage of an F-22 Raptor remains at the crash site on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 15, 2012. Officials with the 325th Fighter Wing are continuing to investigate and secure the scene. The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and first responders were on the scene in less than two minutes.

The pilot of a F-22 Raptor, assigned to the 43rd Fighter Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., safely ejected as the jet crashed Nov. 15 around 3:30 p.m., EDT, on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., one-quarter mile east of the drone runway.

Despite initial media speculation, there are no indications that point to the life support system leading to this incident or playing any role in this crash. A thorough investigation is being conducted in accordance with standard Air Force and Department of Defense policy. The pilot was conducting a routine training mission when first responders were alerted of a problem via an in-flight emergency call and were on scene fighting the fire within two minutes of the incident.

“Our first responders reacted quickly and professionally due to the extensive training we conduct here at Tyndall,” said Col. David Graff, 325th Fighter Wing commander. “In addition, the pilot received top-notch care from our medical group.”

A safety team here began interviewing witnesses, maintainers and other individuals immediately after the incident.

A pair of F-22 Raptors fly near the coastline of Panama City Beach, Fla.

“Right now, our number one priority is the safety of our airmen and all involved as we secure the scene of the incident,” Graff said.

The first step taken in the securing process was a sweep by explosive ordnance disposal airmen for any parts of the aircraft that may be explosive.

Follow-on steps include addressing environmental and biological hazards. Most modern aircraft are made of composite fibers, which can create health concerns for people on the scene when the plane catches fire.

First responders at Tyndall AFB are well trained and equipped to respond to aircraft crashes and minimize their effects on surrounding areas, Graff said. Throughout the initial and continued responses all personnel have worn the appropriate protective gear, and they will continue to do so until the immediate site of the crash is deemed safe.

While safety is the primary concern, preserving the accident scene is a critical part of the investigation. All evidence will be photographed and tagged to preserve all evidence for the official safety investigation board members.




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