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Officials give the go-ahead to resume F-35 flights after pilots experience ‘hypoxia’

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brett Clashman)
June 20, 2017

Officials at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona made the decision Monday to resume flights of F-35 fighter jets on Wednesday, June 21, after both experts and engineers investigated reports by pilots for symptoms related to oxygen deprivation.

Oxygen deprivation is otherwise known as “hypoxia,” an oxygen deficiency in the body where is a reduction in the amount of oxygen able to reach the tissues in the body.

F-35 flights had been grounded since June 9 following the bizarre incidents, which occurred during flight operations; it even happened to one pilot visiting from a foreign military, according to reports.

Each incident can cause varying symptoms in pilots, such as sickness, hyperventilation, anxiety and panic attacks. The Air Force said that each pilot’s back-up oxygen system worked the way it was intended to work, and the pilot was able to safely land the plane.

Although operations have been resumed, officials continue to keep a close eye on flight operations to ensure the safety of all pilots.

Officials with the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) said that although they were unable to find a specific cause for the events resulting in oxygen deprivation over the last five weeks, they were able to eliminate as many of the possible causes as they could; this included a thorough review of crew maintenance and pre-flight equipment procedures.

Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, the 56th Fighter Wing commander, said in a press release Monday that he believes the issue has been resolved following the investigation.

“We are confident that this initial step with the criteria our team developed will allow us to return to flying F-35s safely,” Leonard said.