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This new cockpit system could help put an end to hypoxia-related incidents for pilots

DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
June 21, 2017

The Department of Defense (DOD) may be in the market for new cockpit components for aircraft after recent incidents had pilots reporting symptoms similar to those of hypoxia.

Hypoxia is also known as oxygen deprivation, and it’s an oxygen deficiency in the body where there 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. Each incident of oxygen deprivation can cause varying symptoms in pilots, such as sickness, hyperventilation, anxiety and panic attacks.

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

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Moran commissioned a series of investigations that were made public last week and revealed that the incidents are still mystifying engineers and technicians.

The new oxygen concentrator system is known as the GGU-25, which was first developed nearly 10 years ago.

Derek Woods, director of pneumatic systems for the U.K.-based company Cobham, said that the new system is an upgraded model of an older system not needed by the Navy or Air Force in the past.

“We had worked collaboratively with the Navy to modify the GGU-7, which has been the workhorse concentrator on the T-45, so they produced an engineered version called the GGU-25 that was really driven to look at some improvements to reliability of components, as well as provide a little bit of expanded communication capability and data gathering ability,” Woods said.

The systems were given to the Navy years ago, and while pilots logged close to 400 flight hours on them, production never moved forward.

Since then, Cobham has invested a lot of time and effort into research and development and believes that the next-generation concentrator could solve a lot of current aircraft oxygen issues.