F-22 Coming Back

The F-22’s oxygen-generating problems continue to defy a massive scientific assault, but the Scientific Advisory Board, which is exploring the issue, is proposing a return-to-flight plan likely to be implemented in the coming week or two, sources told the Daily Report Monday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. Flight restrictions will likely apply to training aircraft, and a series of rules are being developed for operational types. The SAB has applied tremendous resources to investigating the issue, to include 16 flights with a heavily instrumented F-22. The problem—contamination and reduced output of the onboard oxygen generating system—is not easy to reproduce. Outgassing of vent materials and conditioning of the ram air itself seem not to be the culprits, although intake of air in confined spaces with the engines running may play a role. There are also indications that heavy G-loading of the F-22 may hamper the OBOGS, but a root cause for all incidents remains elusive. The SAB will continue to work and plans a report in October; a publicly releasable version will also be made available.