Airplane Was On A Training Mission, Pilot Ejected Safely
An F-22 Raptor attached to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida went down Thursday afternoon, causing a fire and closing a highway for about two hours. The pilot of the airplane was able to safely eject and was not seriously hurt, according to the Air Force.
Few details are available. The Raptor was flying a training mission when the accident occurred. There has not yet been any indication of the cause of the accident. It is not known if there is any connection with the long-running supplemental oxygen system issues that have grounded the airplanes on multiple occasions through its service life.
Multiple media sources including Reuters indicate that authorities were able to quickly put out the fire that resulted from the accident. Nearby Highway 98 was closed to traffic for about two hours while the fire was extinguished and the area was secured.
In May, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta directed the Air Force to limit all F-22 flights to remain near potential landing locations to enable quick recovery and landing should a pilot encounter oxygen deprivation. The secretary also directed the Air Force to expedite the installation of an automatic backup oxygen system in all of the planes, and he asked for monthly progress reports as the service continued the search for the root cause of the problem. These actions were in addition to steps the Air Force already was taking to determine the root causes of the hypoxia-like symptoms pilots have experienced. Those restrictions were lifted in July.