Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Pentagon Clears F-22 Raptors For Flight Once Again
At more than $400 million a piece –and Alaska has 40—imagine the frustration at keeping the planes grounded for months and the elation at seeing them soar once more.
The nation’s most elite fighter jets are back to flying Alaska’s skies after being grounded for more than four months. The Pentagon cleared the F-22 Raptors for take off Wednesday morning after a nationwide safety investigation looked into problems with the oxygen delivery systems on the planes.
The stand down came after at least a dozen pilots nationwide reported oxygen cutting off in the cockpit. Military officials say they thoroughly investigated all of the nation’s 170 F-22Raptors, including 40 stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.
They never pinpointed the cause, but said it was time to get the fleet back into the air.
“The senior leaders felt that we were at a level that we could start flying again and do it safely,” said JBER Col. Derek France. He says there were some minor changes made to the cockpit and that pilots were given additional training to make sure they could handle the high-tech aircraft in any situation. They also spent time training on simulators so they could stay sharp on other skills.
Military officials also referenced the fatal crash of an F-22 outside of Anchorage last November, citing no evidence of oxygen-related issues in the cockpit that would have played a role in the incident. They didn’t say when a final report on the cause of that crash would be made public.