Shoot the messenger!
That’s a time honored method used by incompetent leaders to deal with bad news. Now, we see the Navy’s version of that related to the aircraft oxygen deprivation problems being experienced by pilots. Apparently, there is no problem. It’s all in the pilot’s heads. Yep, here’s the Navy’s explanation for the oxygen problems.
“First, the cockpit warning light for the On-Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS) goes off too often, making pilots think they had a problem with their air supply when there really wasn’t one, Winter [VAdm. Mat Winter, F-35 program director] said at the DefenseNews conference here yesterday. Since the warning signs of hypoxia are the same as the signs of getting anxious about hypoxia – you have trouble breathing and concentrating – a false alarm can easily send a pilot into psychosomatic symptoms. The program has tweaked the warning light to reduce false positives, Winter said.” [emphasis added] (1)
You’re not passing out, you just think you are! I love it! Only the Navy could come up with this response to a physiological and physical problem. It’s all in your head!
“Second, in this summer’s incidents at Luke in particular, the problem was a combination of brutal temperatures and inexperienced pilots. While pilots who know an aircraft well can jump in the cockpit, run through their checklists, and get in the air ASAP, the F-35 is a new plane and most of its pilots are still mastering it. The result was pilots spending half an hour on the runway in the baking
100-plus degree heat, all the while sitting in the carbon monoxide from their
own jet exhaust. That’s enough to make anyone woozy.” [emphasis added] (1) Arizona
So, it’s the pilots fault! Of course, Winter’s explanations ignore the fact that experienced pilots and instructor pilots were reporting symptoms across a variety of aircraft under a variety of conditions.
The Navy’s version of shoot the messenger is to throw the complaining pilots under the bus! This is not going to sit well with pilots who already feel their complaints were being ignored. This should increase the pilot job satisfaction and reenlistment rate.
(1)Breaking Defense website, “JPO Fixing F-35 Oxygen, Carrier Landing, Software Glitches: VADM Winter”, Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr.,