As the U.S. Navy waits longer for its F-35C Joint Strike Fighter carrier versions, the service is being forced to increasingly rely on its F-18 family of aircraft at the very time pilots, air crews and engineers are trying to find and fix the causes of extremely worrisome cockpit breathing issues in the jets.
Continuation of the Boeing F-18 line is one of the critical elements of the Navy’s tactical aircraft inventory. Yet, Navy brass have been telling lawmakers that F-18 pilots are reporting more incidents of breathing problems in their jets, prompting a major combined effort to determine the causes.
“It’s a top priority for the Navy and the Marine Corps,” Rear Adm. Michael Moran, Navy program executive officer for tactical aircraft, testified Feb. 4 at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on naval air operations.
What is alarming both services’ aviation officials is the growing rate of hypoxia symptoms among pilots. Fliers reported just 5.84 hypoxia events per 100,000 flight hours in fiscal 2006 in the F-18 fleet. But from Nov. 1, 2013, through Oct. 31, 2014, F/A-18 and EA-18G fleets logged 70.98 incidents per 100,000 flight hours (end of excerpt)
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