No specific root cause for the physiological events experienced by F-35 pilots was identified

On Jun. 21, 2017 the 56th Fighter Wing (FW) at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) will resume F-35A Lightning II flight operations, following an 11-day pause after five physiological events occurred during flights from May 2-June 8 2017.

As the U.S. Air Force said in a press release, no specific root cause for the physiological events was identified during recent visits from experts and engineers from the Joint Program Office, Lockheed Martin, the Air Force Research Laboratory and other organizations.

However specific concerns were eliminated as possible causes including maintenance and aircrew flight equipment procedures.

Nevertheless the following five criteria are temporarily applied to local flights as technical and human performance data continues to be gathered:
1. Avoid the altitudes in which all five physiological events occurred.
2. Modify ground procedures to mitigate physiological risks to pilots.
3. Expand physiological training to increase understanding between pilot and medical communities.
4. Increase minimum levels for backup oxygen systems for each flight.
5. Offer pilots the option of wearing sensors during flight to collect airborne human performance data.

“Our active duty, reserve, and international team has worked tirelessly to better understand the physiological events,” said Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, the 56th FW commander. “This is a complex challenge that necessitates multidimensional solutions across a series of steps to get back to a full operating capability. We are confident that this initial step with the criteria our team developed will allow us to return to flying F-35s safely and to continue building the future of airpower.”

Photo credit: Senior Airman Jeremy L. Mosier and Senior Airman James Hensley / U.S. Air Force

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