When pilots in the Air Force’s F-22 program began showing signs of hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain, blood tests revealed a range of toxins including anti-freeze, synthetic oil and propane, Minyanville.com reported this week.
“These guys are getting tested for toxins and they’ve [gotten] toxins out of their bloodstreams,” said one source who wished to remain anonymous. “One of the guys was expelling propane.”
So far, one death has been linked to the problem; Captain Jeffrey Haney died in a crash last November. According to the report, Haney sounded drunk in his final radio call, a symptom of hypoxia. The condition causes brain damage, memory loss and confusion.
Investigators still aren’t sure exactly where the toxins are coming from. Officials running the Project on Government Oversight said until the problem is corrected, all F-22 flights have been grounded. Pilots have spent the downtime working out and practicing in simulators, but will have to be retrained every 210 days to maintain their skills.
The re-qualifying process for fighter jet pilots typically takes from four to six weeks to complete. Obviously, program administrators are anxious to get pilots back in the air to avoid this expensive, lengthy process, but won’t move forward until oxygen safety is completely ensured.
“There is a lot of nasty stuff getting pumped into pilots’ bloodstream through what they’re breathing from that OBOGS [On-Board Oxygen Generation System]. That’s fact,” one pilot commented. “How bad it is, what type it is, exactly how much of it, how long – all these things have not been answered.