Secretary Panetta Calls for Additional Measures to Ensure F-22 Safety of Flight


WASHINGTON, DC 20301·1000

MAY 15 2012
MEMORANDUM FOR SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE SUBJECT: Additional Measures to Ensure F-22 Safety of Flight I have reviewed the F-22 briefing you provided on May 11 concerning the Air Force's continuing efforts to determine the root cause and to mitigate the risks from the hypoxia-like symptoms experienced by F-22 pilots. Safety of flight and minimizing risks to our pilots remain our primary objectives. While I endorse the measures taken by the Air Force to add sensors to both the F-22 cockpit and pilot equipment, to collect and analyze data, and to rapidly pursue all plausible hypotheses to determine the root cause of these events, I am directing three additional measures to further ensure F-22 safety of flight that you and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force recommended: a. The Air Force will expedite installation of an automatic backup oxygen system in the F-22, in addition to other risk mitigation measures already implemented or underway. b. Effective immediately, training sorties will remain within proximity of potential landing locations to enable rapid recovery and landing should a pilot encounter unanticipated physiological conditions during flight. As a result of this restriction, long-duration aerospace control sorties in Alaska will be performed by other than F-22 aircraft until normal F-22 operations resume with the backup oxygen system installation or until the Air Force recommends a change in posture which I approve. c. The Air Force will continue to aggressively pursue discovery of root cause using all means available, including subject matter expertise in the Department ofthe Navy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. These measures will not eliminate the possibility of future physiological events in the F-22; however, they will enhance the safety of our pilots while preserving our ability to meet mission requirements in support of our national security objectives. The Air Force will provide me with a monthly progress report on this issue beginning in June 2012 and until I approve resumption of normal F-22 flight operations.



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