The U.S. Air Force will gradually lift flight restrictions placed on its Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fleet in response to unexplained incidents of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, experienced by pilots dating as far back as 2008.
Chemical oxygen generator
In February 2011 the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive calling for removal of chemical oxygen generators from airplane lavatories, or emptying the generator and restowing the masks. (By the way, no one told the passengers that there was no longer any supplemental oxygen supply in the bathrooms.) While security wasn’t mentioned in the AD, apparently there was a safety problem. Or as the FAA so confoundingly put it in the new final rule, which rescinds the 2011 AD, “This AD was prompted by reports that the current design of the oxygen generators presents a hazard that could jeopardize flight safety. We are issuing this AD to eliminate a hazard that could jeopardize flight safety and to ensure that all lavatories have a supplemental oxygen supply.”
The U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor fleet remains grounded into a fourth month as the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board conducts a study of the F-22 and other aircraft using onboard oxygen generation systems (Obogs).
The FAA is abdicating its safety responsibility.
American Eagle executives planned to meet with FAA officials last month to discuss the Dallas-based airline’s alleged violations of hazardous-materials regulations. The FAA alleges that on one occasion in 2000 American Eagle transported an oxygen generator as cargo aboard a passenger flight. It also claims that Eagle improperly offered oxygen generators to Federal Express for shipment by air on seven separate occasions.
The FAA has proposed levying a $1 million fine against American Eagle for failing to comply with the company’s oil-consumption monitoring program. The offenses involved nine Saab 340Bs, whose oil levels the airline failed to properly check daily between May 1 and Aug. 24, 1998. During that period, Eagle pilots aborted 11 takeoffs due to low engine oil pressure.
Fire is the sharpest two-edged sword in man’s bag of tools. When under control it was a formidable tool that warmed, comforted, cooked food and kept wild beasts at bay for prehistoric man. Today, it fulfills those and many other needs, yet out of control it is man’s worst nightmare. What greater fear can a pilot have than being at altitude with a fire in the cabin?