nav search
Data Center Software Security Transformation DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes BOFH

back to article
US Air Force resumes F-35A flights despite not knowing why pilot oxygen systems failed

No failure was identified

"even as it admits that it still doesn’t know what caused the life support systems to malfunction."

A more correct statement would probably be "because it doesn't believe the life support systems malfunctioned.", although they'd never come out and say that.

As you say in the article there is no evidence of any malfunction other than the pilot's report of symptoms. While that can't be ignored, there are other possible causes of those symptoms and part of the action the USAF is taking is additional training directed at avoiding those other causes.

11
0
Bronze badge

Re: No failure was identified

I was thinking the same thing when I read "...and allowing pilots to wear extra sensors during flight to collect data ..." That makes me think the g-suit (and associated systems) could be what they are looking at for issues, rather than the oxygen supply.

10
0
Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Re: No failure was identified

"because it doesn't believe the life support systems malfunctioned."

Maybe but it could one of those things that keep happening because the overall design is just too hacky, has fundamental problems and you really can't even debug it properly. Like those Toyota "Sudden Unintended Acceleration" events.

pilots being instructed to avoid the specific altitudes where their comrades ran short of breathable air

I don't know what to conclude from that, it sounds like the Linux nouveau driver behaviour.

4
0
Silver badge

Easy solution

The airforce could save on the installation of oxygen systems by training Sherpas to be pilots.

12
0
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Easy solution

Easier solution- when hypoxia strikes, eject.

After half a dozen or so of the expensive flying bricks have cratered, they will start looking into the oxygen problem.

Probably 10c worth of plastic.

6
0

Re: Easy solution

The problem is that Hypoxia is a sneaky bastard.

A typical sign of hypoxia is that you start thinking that everything is great.

Typical symptoms are singing out loud and giggling away because everything is funny.

Often it is the wingman that detects the hypoxia first (slurred speech etc). There are numerous accounts of wingmen having to work hard to convince the victim of hypoxia to do something about the problem (fly lower). -There are also enough accounts of the affected aircraft just suddenly doing a wingover and heading straight down to terra-firma.

I suspect that this is one of those failure-chain situations where more data are needed to find the root cause.

While hypoxia will not occur at lower altitude, the system failure might, and added sensor data can then help to solve the problem. Flight testing is all about finding the UGH-known.

7
0

Two words

Andromeda Strain

12
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Two words

Helvetica Scenario

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Two words

I initially assumed this had something to do with bits of Toblerone getting stuck in pipes; turns out it's something else entirely.

1
0

Procurement Choices and Pork

so someone explain why Lockheed (and it's Raytheon and California connections to politicians in procurement committees) won out over Boeing's offering that flew and translated between VTOL and level flight long before this aircraft did?

Oh wait, I already answered that. Not enough Washington State politicos in Congressional positions of military procurement oversight.

Too bad blame always goes towards the military that buys the stuff and not the politicians who force them to choose it. One group gets reelected on a "look how stupid the military is" platform, the other becomes the scapegoat for all civilian government decisions.

Aircraft was a bodge from day one. But politics pushed it through anway. No surprise it remains a bodge.

19
0
Silver badge

Re: Procurement Choices and Pork

You mean like how tanks keep on being bought even though the Army says we don't need them?

19
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

"so someone explain why Lockheed..won out over Boeing's offering"

Well that's the talent of LM.

Time after time they might lose the competition, but someone it's there aircraft that got built.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Procurement Choices and Pork

"Boeing's offering that flew and translated between VTOL and level flight"

I don't think either JSF competitor ever managed VTOL.

X32 only did STOVL and level flight for some values of "short" and "level flight", you had to swap the airframe if you wanted to go supersonic - something that's tricky to do in flight - was even more weight restricted than X35 and had a propensity for engine failure.

Both projects were massively optimistic engineering challenges and both would have had problems.

10
0
Silver badge

Re: Procurement Choices and Pork

'"Boeing's offering that flew and translated between VTOL and level flight"

I don't think either JSF competitor ever managed VTOL.'

As I remember, and there was a video clip somewhere, the LM demonstrator was the only one to conduct a short take-off, break the sound barrier, and land vertically in one flight. Which was done at Edwards, whereas the Boeing aircraft's VSTOL demos were done nearer sea level. It still wasn't that representative because the lift fan remained engaged throughout, but it did also demonstrate the capacity to carry a greater mass than the Boeing version.

While you try and rewrite history it's also worth remembering that Boeing added a tail plane to their proposal after the evaluation phase so it's not as if you could say it was more production ready than the F-35.

Edit, here's an article referencing the X-35 supersonic flight:

https://www.space.com/4778-supersonic-hover-35-flies.html

Can't find the video

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Procurement Choices and Pork

Was it this? Seem to remember having seen it on telly.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/battle-x-planes/

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Procurement Choices and Pork

Well, someone has to hold back the vast Soviet tank armies as they come flooding through the Fulda Gap...

Don't they?

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Procurement Choices and Pork

To be fair though, the Boeing X-32 was UGLY.

Proper, 'fell out of the ugly plane tree and hit every branch on the way down' ugly.

Just look.

2
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Procurement Choices and Pork

Not fair at all. While having no beef on the aircraft ugly!=effectiveness. Just look at the Warthog.

2
0

Re: Procurement Choices and Pork

"You mean like how tanks keep on being bought even though the Army says we don't need them?"

This one's a bit unusual in that the official justification for this barrel of pork is that there'd be no domestic tank production capability without it. Finding enough boneyards for everything is a drop in the bucket compared to the other waste the military is guilty of, though.

1
0
Gold badge
Coat

"Lockheed Martin displayed the F-35 without incident, "

Was anyone else thinking "Is presentation, not demonstration."

It's not so much a jacket as more a chest piece.

1
0
Bronze badge

To put it another way

"“This is a complex challenge that necessitates multidimensional solutions across a series of steps to get back to a full operating capability."

Or, as we would say in English, "We have no effing idea!"

11
0
Silver badge

Re: To put it another way

@kernel

"“This is a complex challenge that necessitates multidimensional solutions across a series of steps to get back to a full operating capability."

Or, as we would say in English, "We have no effing idea!"

I took that to read "I'm so used to drowning in bullshit that I don't even notice anymore".

11
0
Silver badge

Re: To put it another way

> multidimensional

Maybe string theory can help?

5
0
Silver badge

Re: To put it another way

> multidimensional

Maybe string theory can help?

I'll ask the cats - they are pretty good with string-stuff..

7
0
Silver badge

Re: To put it another way

I am glad you didn't see fit to tell us what it would be in Australian.

1
0
Silver badge
Windows

Simple Fix?

Have they tried changing the O2 Output Level setting from politician to pilot? The pilot setting is in the vertebrate sub-menu. Just remember to explicitly select "pilot" and then select "apply" or you will set it to "bovine".

14
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple Fix?

In the menu, under citizen, is the default setting ovine?

5
0

Re: Simple Fix?

Under Citizen the menu reads: Guns, Missiles

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple Fix?

Question, why would they have politician setting? I would not an expensive piece of kit any were near politician let alone a buggy one . Leave it to a politician to find a way to crash a computer that has been running BSD rock solid for decade just by looking at it. Or to ask some thing silly like were is solitaire .

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Simple Fix?

BYOO day!

0
0
Coat

Hmm...

I suspect that if this was in the UK the proposed solution from the defence contractors would be:

"Look, if you feel a bit woozy old chap, just crank open the canopy a little more and breathe deeply."

It's the flying jacket with the goggles and flowing white scarf

9
0
Silver badge

Re: Hmm...

It's the flying jacket with the goggles and flowing white scarf

On the the more important question - do British planes all have tea-making facilities? I know that all the various AFVs do (deprive a squaddie of their brew? They'd mutiny like it was 1857..) and all the ships/boats most certainly do.

Or are the flyboys too up themselves for that? After all, they have servants^W ground-crew..

5
0
Thumb Up

Re: Hmm...

"do British planes all have tea-making facilities?"

I believe that's what the second hose on the in-flight refuelling tanker is for...

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Hmm...

As long as your banter is up to scratch, Bob's your uncle.

1
0
Silver badge

Supposedly, the problems with hypoxia were also present in F-18 and trainer pilots too

So I'm not sure what is going on if that is true. Maybe smoking is making a comeback among our fearless flying aces?

3
0
Silver badge
Devil

Re: Supposedly, the problems with hypoxia were also present in F-18 and trainer pilots too

Sounds like one of the secondary effects of Spice. No, not Dune's Spice .

;^)

5
0
Silver badge
Flame

"...restarted flights of F-35As that were grounded by oxygen supply problems, even as it admits that it still doesn’t know what caused the life support systems to malfunction."

Two words:

HOLY SHIT !!!

4
0
Anonymous Coward

But how can Holy Shit be the root cause?

4
0
Silver badge

But how can Holy Shit be the root cause?

Well - you try breating it and see what happens. Hypoxia will be the least of your problems..

1
0

I'm not sure the fuss

Any re-breather diver knows all about monitoring O2 concentrations in breathing loops. I'm sure for someone of LM's calibre it should be quite simple to install the 3 x O2 sensors required (using voting logic to avoid issues with a faulty cell) to monitor and potentially automate a failover if they detect the partial pressure of O2 dropping below 0.16 ATA.

10
0
Silver badge

This might account...

... for Maverick's erratic behaviour and mood swings.

9
0
Silver badge

Re: This might account...

... possibly also for contracting scientology?

2
0

Comrades?

Comrades? COMRADES? Is this the Russian air force? It is now.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Comrades?

But Russia is not so much soviet now (not that the Murricaner have noticed)

A, the good times of Firefox

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Comrades?

"Gant, can you really fly this plane?"

Saw that as it came out in 1982 in London while visiting my sister.

2
0
FAIL

pilots being instructed to avoid the specific altitudes

"where their comrades ran short of breathable air"

Now to instruct potential adversaries to avoid the same altitudes ... otherwise it's just not cricket, or should that read "kilikiti". (An aside, I played kilikiti as a school kid. Whole lot of fun. Thoroughly recommended. Everybody should play it. :)

1
0

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing