In light of recent accidents that underscore the dangers of hypoxia, operators might want to hear the dangers for themselves. A 2008 recording of a pair of Learjet pilots who nearly lost control of their aircraft illustrates the threat that hypoxia poses. In the recording something is clearly wrong with the pilots, but they struggled to make their problem and their intentions known to a Cleveland Center controller, who figured the problem out on his own and instructed the pilots to descend.
As concerns grow over whether recent accidents involved hypoxia, including the TBM900 crash on Friday, pilots might wonder about simple tools to help them detect when hypoxia is imminent or occurring. Though pressurized aircraft have alarms that warn when cabin altitude climbs too high, the ubiquitous mobile devices that most pilots carry can also pitch in to help.
By the time hypoxia is detected, it’s often too late, and the higher the cabin altitude, the less time pilots have to realize that they need to don oxygen masks.
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.
Now out of production, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is troubled by an unresolved problem thought to be tied to its onboard oxygen generation system (Obogs). Nevertheless, the U.S. Air Force recently deployed the stealthy fighter to Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE, and it plans to add new capabilities to the aircraft over the next decade.
The U.S. Air Force approved a resumption of flight operations by the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, ending a four-month standdown ordered after pilots experienced symptoms of hypoxia. The suspected source of the problem, the aircraft’s onboard oxygen generation system (Obogs), remains under study.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has taken delivery of a Mentor advanced aircraft training device built by Frasca. The trainer will be used in studies of hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, in the university’s Normobaric lab. The Mentor replicates a Cessna 172 cockpit complete with Garmin G1000 avionics and a Truvision visual system.
In recent months FAA Administrator Babbitt has promoted specific tailored hypoxia training, along with high-altitude handling, for commercial and private pilots who want to fly at high altitude. Indeed, FAA Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14CFR) establishes mandatory requirements for high-altitude training using military altitude chambers at 15 U.S.
More than 60 percent of business jet pilots do not use oxygen masks when required to by FAA regulations, according to a survey conducted by corporate pilot Chris Shaver for his master’s thesis at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the Payne Stewart accident, in which the 42-year-old professional golfer and five others aboard a chartered Learjet 35 lost their lives after the jet suffered a loss of pressurization during a flight from Orlando, Fla., to Dallas. All aboard the Learjet fell unconscious from the effects of hypoxia about 15 minutes after departing Orlando International Airport.
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