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The Air Force probe on F-22 is inadequate

The Air Force probe on F-22 is inadequate. This is a serious claim, which is made by senior officials of the department of Defense. What’s happening is basically a “find the truth” story as Jeff Haney’s fighter crashed in 2010 while gasping for oxygen in the cockpit. The investigation quickly stated the crash was due to human error, blaming the pilot for the crash, and certainly not a multimillion dollars jet fighter to be sold all across the world with success. In a controversial Accident Investigation Board report released a year after the accident, Air Force officials cited three “human factors” as causing the crash: Haney’s “channelized attention” to restoring air flow to his oxygen mask; his failure to keep an eye on his instruments and surroundings; and his “unrecognized spatial disorientation” while plummeting to earth.

In a way, the Air Force trashed the pilot to preserve political and financial support. Although the Air Force has always denied this, they have to face new criticisms. In a report released Feb. 6, the Department of Defense’s Deputy Inspector General Randolph R. Stone accused the Air Force of conducting a sloppy, inadequate probe of Haney’s deadly crash in the wintry Alaska wilderness. Stone wrote that the Air Force’s conclusions were “not supported by the facts” presented and didn’t exhaust all investigative leads. He said the three human factors cited by the board were “separate, distinct and conflicting,” and concluded that the Air Force did not explain how they all could have worked together to cause the crash. The report’s errors and omissions called into question the Air Force board’s conclusions, Stone and his colleagues said. The Air Force, in its response, conceded its account of the accident “could have been more clearly written,” but insisted that findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence and that the board had exhausted all available investigative leads. The auditors said they weren’t buying it, however, partly because they found the board had failed to analyze how factors such as hypoxia, loss of consciousness due to high g-forces and sudden incapacitation may have affected the pilot. Neither did the board adequately explain how it decided Haney’s mask was in the full-up position as the plane sank – a conclusion that ruled out several other areas of investigation, including the possibility that Haney had removed his mask because the oxygen flow was too weak.

The F-22 draws a lot of ink, but maybe not for the good reasons. It is a fantastic plane, but the failures of the administration have made this aircraft a danger to itself, and not seeking the truth will not help in convincing friendly countries to purchase this jet fighter.

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