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Significant problem found with F-18/E-18 environmental system

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posted on Feb, 4 2016 @ 08:04 PM
In 2006, the rate of F-18 pilots suffering physiological effects related to the aircraft stood at 3.66 per 100,000 flight hours. In 2009 that began to rise. The rate for the Growler stood at 5.52 from 2010-2011.

From November 1, 2014-October 31, 2015 that rate stood at 28.23 per 100,000 for the Hornet, and 43.57 per 100,000 for the Growler. Symptoms shown by pilots include symptoms related to depressurization, tissue hypoxia and contaminant intoxication. No cause has been found to date as to why the rate is climbing.

Of the 273 cases adjudicated so far by the investigation team, 93 involved some form of contamination, 90 involved an environmental control systems (ECS) component failure, 67 involved human factors, 41 involved an on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS) component failure, 11 involved a breathing gas delivery component failure, and 45 were inconclusive or involved another system failure.

posted on Feb, 4 2016 @ 08:58 PM
I consider this an even bigger deal than the issues with the F-22 OBOGS.

A lot more of these flying sorties than the raptor.

posted on Feb, 4 2016 @ 09:20 PM
a reply to: Theprimevoyager

This is much bigger than that. There are over 300 Hornets in US service, and over 500 Super Hornets worldwide. This makes the F-22 problem look minor with those rate numbers.

posted on Feb, 4 2016 @ 11:00 PM
a reply to: Zaphod58

The causes seem varied, with the sort rate of the 18's could it be just increased failures with increased numbers, or do they think it is something more substantial?

posted on Feb, 4 2016 @ 11:04 PM
a reply to: Bfirez

Right now they're poking in the dark. Some of the flights there are obvious problems, others they fine tooth and nothing is there. This is going to be harder to track down than the F-22 issue.

posted on Feb, 4 2016 @ 11:38 PM
Shades of issues a decade ago with maintenance on the Pig...
F111 tank reseal health issues.

posted on Feb, 5 2016 @ 05:02 AM
What's the chances they'll place limitations on how the hornets can be flown? Could have a massive affect for a number of 1 type fleet operators.

posted on Feb, 5 2016 @ 06:08 AM
a reply to: Donkey09

I don't see how they can. Going to a single type fleet really screwed them.

posted on Feb, 5 2016 @ 11:13 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58

And that problem is only going to be compounded once the 22's, & 35's are your mainstay. Hears to everyone getting their own airframe in Gen 6!
edit on 5-2-2016 by Bfirez because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 5 2016 @ 12:14 PM
And it's clearly system related. We had no such problems when breathing straight O2 from the green tanks. I love OBOGS, but it's intergrated into the aircraft and scrubs O2 through that nitrogen / argon process, which just begs the question as to what failure modes are present and how would they affect the pilot.

Not sure if they can test/replicate the conditions occurring at altitude with these jets, but it's really scary, especially in single-pilot operations.

And 100% O2 was the bomb!

posted on Feb, 5 2016 @ 12:18 PM
a reply to: cosmania

Whatever the ultimate cause it's recent. Ten years ago it was almost unheard of.

posted on Mar, 24 2016 @ 11:59 AM
Fleet wide, from November 2013-October 2014 it stood at 70.98 per 100,000. The problems vary from type to type. The problem isn't low oxygen levels, but the ability to process the oxygen.

The F-18A-D is seeing more ECS problems. The E/F is seeing OBOGS problems, but they don't know why. The Growler, which tends to fly a higher, straight and level flight path, is seeing a particular valve freeze. That valve is related to cockpit oxygen and avionics cooling.

They've made 18 changes to date, from more frequent testing instead of fly to failure on the legacy aircraft, to a new sieve and scrubber for the OBOGS system. The sieve used was the finest available. In 1982.

posted on May, 12 2016 @ 06:44 PM
A Congressional panel is calling for an independent investigation, led by the Navy into the OBOGS problems being seen by the pilots.

Navy and Marine Corps strike fighter aviators face a dangerous loss of air flow while flying. They're set to suffer more than 100 of these hazardous and potentially fatal incidents this year for the second time; one Navy F/A-18 Hornet squadron reported two in a week.

Now, Congress is moving to demand an independent review of the breathing air and decompression problems plaguing the F/A-18 Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets, which stem from complex air flow systems the Navy has spent years trying to repair.

The congresswoman who made the problem public in February, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., is calling for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to choose a senior official in his office to review the Navy and Marine Corps' efforts to fix the problems and to consult technical and medical experts from outside the Defense Department.

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