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Air Force T-6 aircraft crashes in TX, injuries reported

A T-6A Texan II waits for another T-6A to pass before taxing onto the runway Nov. 1, 2017 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. (Christopher Carranza/U.S. Air Force)
September 19, 2018

An Air Force T-6 Texan training aircraft crashed on Tuesday outside San Antonio, Texas, for unknown reasons.

The crash occurred approximately 30 miles from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph at approximately 4 p.m. on Tuesday, according to a Fox News report.  An instructor and student pilot were on board.

“The crew ejected and is safe with minor injuries reported at the site. Both were transported to the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Medical Clinic for evaluation and both pilots were released,” said a statement with the Air Education and Training Command (AETC).

Emergency responders from the base, the 12th Flying Training Wing, and from local agencies arrived at the scene soon after the crash. No civilian casualties took place.

“We are grateful to the community and the first responders who rushed to help our Airmen at the site of the crash,” said Col. Mark Robinson, 12th Flying Training Wing commander.

“While we can’t rule out any specific cause, initial indications do not give us reason to believe that the On Board Oxygen Generation System is a factor in today’s accident. We are pleased to confirm that our pilots were treated and released from our medical facility,” Robinson said.

The incident is still under investigation to ascertain the cause.

Oxygen systems have long been a problem in the T-6 Texan. The AETC just announced last week that the T-6 fleet’s On-Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS) will be undergoing maintenance and replacement soon.

“The 12th FTW commander has suspended T-6A Texan II flying training at JBSA-Randolph and will evaluate its resumption over the coming days,” the AETC statement said. “The 12th Flying Training Wing commander has established an interim safety board to preserve evidence until a formal safety board is established this week.”

A new oxygen system is being developed by the AETC and Air Force Material Command (AFMC) and will take two to four years to complete. Meanwhile, these agencies are working with the aircraft’s manufacturer to create a solution in the onboard computer system, in which the software will be able to stabilize the onboard oxygen concentrations.

At least 13 incidents took place involving pilots who suffered from physiological symptoms that were traced back to the OBOGS failures. Some of the symptoms were attributed to insufficient oxygen or carbon dioxide levels in the blood, directly caused by fluctuating oxygen levels in the cockpit.

These incidents led the Air Force to ground all T-6 Texan aircraft in Feb. 2018. The pause was lifted less than four weeks later, however, and the T-6 continues to be used despite the problems identified during lengthy investigations.