Boeing and US Navy are reportedly working on incorporating measures to resolve oxygen issues faced by the pilots on board the Boeing-built F/A-18 and EA-18G fighter jets.
The measures primarily included redesigning the jets’ oxygen generation system.
Dan Gillian, spearheading Boeing’s F/A-18E/F and EA-18G programmes was quoted by Reuters as saying that since 2009, pilots of the jets had been afflicted with ailments such as insufficient oxygen, depressurisation, or other factors present during the flight, which prompted the company and the US Navy to determine the causes and accordingly implement measures to stem the issue.
According to early reports, physiological event like dizziness or confusion were attributed to the aircraft’s faulty onboard oxygen generation systems (OBOGS), environmental control system (ECS), other reasons included human errors and contamination.
Navy tactical aircraft director rear admiral Michael Moran had accounted for 18 or 19 modifications made in the ECS to include new pressure and control valves and sensors to deal with possible causes of the decompression sickness, reported Flightglobal.
Navy spokesman commander William Marks was quoted by Reuters as stating that they have undertaken 13 specific measures which included modifying the aircraft’s OBOGS, improving maintenance practises, and educating pilots about the system and how it works.
The OBOGS has been incorporated with new filtration systems to exterminate carbon monoxide and other contaminants from the pilot’s oxygen.
The new filtration system will eventually be installed across the F/A-18 fleet, and the testing of a new oxygen monitoring system is underway, which is expected to be installed in 2017.
The navy is now monitoring cabin pressurisation on all F/A-18A-F and EA-18G aircraft every 400 flight hours, as well as testing the environmental control system on all older F/A-18 A-D model jets every 400 flight hours.
They have also modified emergency procedures and are training the pilots on oxygen deficiency or hypoxia.
Image: F/A-18E Super Hornets undergoing modifications to address pilot’s health hazard. Photo: courtesy of Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, US Air Force.