More on the F-22 Accident

The F-22 that crashed during a flight test on March 25 was working well when the pilot temporarily lost situational awareness due to high G-loading, accident investigation board president Maj. Gen. David Eidsaune said in an interview with Air Force Magazine Monday. (Daily Report’s initial AIB report coverage.) The aircraft was an early test model of the Raptor and was “heavily instrumented,” he said, and much of the mission was filmed. “We looked through … hundreds of parameters,” Eidsaune said, “and there were no indications [of] … any problems with the flight controls, the engines, the avionics. Everything was working nominally on the plane.” A separate board issues safety conclusions, but no F-22s were grounded as a result of the accident. A “contributing factor” in the accident was that the pilot, Lockheed Martin test pilot David Cooley, performed an anti-G straining maneuver that was “less than optimum,” Eidsaune said. Instead of the usual series of short breaths and releases, combined with a tensing of the diaphragm, Cooley made a single long exhale. Cooley was wearing standard G-pants and not a Combat Edge suit, which gives somewhat more protection against high-G forces. He lost situational awareness and by the time he shook off the effects of the heavy Gs, it was too late to recover the aircraft, which was supersonic and pointed at the ground. Although Cooley made “the correct decision” to eject, he was outside the safe ejection parameters for the F-22, and was killed by the windblast, Eidsaune reported. At 600 knots, Cooley might have survived, but at his speed of 770 knots, his body was subjected to 60 positive Gs and then 30 negative Gs in ejecting. He was getting over a cold, but that condition wasn’t considered a factor.