“Pilots told me that they are more concerned about a failure and their basic life support system that we’re talking about killing them than they’re – than they are concerned about being shot down by enemy fire…What do you make of those suggestions?”
“Well, I think it’s important for all of us in leadership positions to understand, when we hear those sort of things, there…there’s a cry for, ‘Hey, are you listening to me?’”
Admiral Moran says the Navy is listening and taking action, with a “unconstrained resource” approach.
“We’ve got a lot of people converging, swarming on a problem that we’re gonna – we’re gonna find ways to mitigate that risk and ultimately fix it.”
When systems in both the F/A-18 Hornet and the T-45 don’t provide clean, breathable air to aircrew, they may become dizzy, euphoric or even pass out while flying.
Reports of those kind of incidents have been on the rise. In fact, the Navy is using a simulator that trains pilots to recognize if they become impaired and then manually activate their emergency oxygen supply.
“It’s very uncomfortable. It’s hard to concentrate.”
“I was a little bit dizzy and then very quick onset, it felt like a sudden head-rush that wouldn’t relent.”
To address the issues, the Navy has already been increasing system inspections and improving maintenance. And based on the 65-page review, it plans to establish a dedicated organization to lead the efforts, while continuing to investigate what’s causing the problems and redesigning some key systems.
But Admiral Moran says finding a clear fix won’t be easy.
“An elusive solution here is just a reflection of how complex the system is by itself. So, it’s not a simple system. It’s not one single thing. It could be a combination or a series of things that case the problem.”
“The pilots I spoke to are brave…Are they taking risks that they should not have to take?”
“We don’t want them to take any unnecessary risk. The system, the aircraft ought to operate the way it was designed to operate. And it’s up to us to figure out how to get that airplane back to that level of performance.”
As you saw, in the case of a system failure, pilots have to manually activate emergency oxygen – even if they are impaired.
Admiral Moran says an automatic system is the goal. He also says if they are to able to get T-45 training flights going again by the end of the summer, it will impact operational readiness – but he says the Navy is getting close.