Hugh Pickens writes “The LA Times reports that even though the Air Force has used its F-22 Raptor planes only in test missions, pilots have experienced seven major crashes with two deaths, a grim reminder that the U.S. military’s most expensive fighter jet, never called into combat despite conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, continues to experience equipment problems — notably with its oxygen systems. New details from an Air Force report last week drew attention to a crash in November 2010 that left Capt. Jeff Haney dead and raised debate over whether the Air Force turned Haney into a scapegoat to escape more criticism of the F-22. Haney ‘most likely experienced a sense similar to suffocation,’ the report said. ‘This was likely [Haney’s] first experience under such physiological duress.’ According to the Air Force Accident Report, Haney should have leaned over and with a gloved hand pulled a silver-dollar-size green ring that was under his seat by his left thigh to engage the emergency system (PDF). It takes 40 pounds of pull to engage the emergency system. That’s a tall order for a man who has gone nearly a minute without a breath of air, speeding faster than sound, while wearing bulky weather gear, says Michael Barr, a former Air Force fighter pilot and former accident investigation officer. ‘It would’ve taken superhuman efforts on the pilot’s behalf to save that aircraft,’ says Barr. ‘The initial cause of this accident was a malfunction with the aircraft — not the pilot.'”
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