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.
The FAA last week proposed a $547,500 civil penalty against Hawaiian Airlines for operating a Boeing 767-300 “more than 5,000 times” when the aircraft was not in compliance with a July 2000 airworthiness directive (AD). The AD required inspections of certain engine thrust reverser components to prevent a portion of the device from separating in flight and causing a rapid decompression of the aircraft. It also mandated initial and repetitive inspections of the components to detect damage and wear, and to take corrective actions if necessary.
Lufthansa Technik (LHT) is studying ways to reduce the loads imposed on a bizliner’s interior walls and their structural attachments by a sudden drop in cabin pressure. The solution appears to lie in installing large cutouts in the walls and floor.
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 FAA has issued an airworthiness directive for the Boeing 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, and -900 series. The AD was prompted by a report of cracks found in the skin at body station 540 just below stringer S-22L on a 737-700.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded that the improper installation of a fuselage crown skin panel during the manufacturing process was the probable cause of substantial damage to a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 during a rapid decompression incident in April 2011.
On September 26, the Canadian Coast Guard recovered an MBB BO105 helicopter that crashed and sank in the M’Clure Straits of the Arctic Ocean earlier in the month, killing all three men aboard. Post-mortem examinations of the victims revealed that the three likely survived the impact but succumbed later from the effects of cold-water induced hypothermia. The commander of the icebreaker Amundsen was among the victims.
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.
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).
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.
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