Home » Aviation » Navy Directs 30-Day Review of F-18, T-45 Physiological Episodes


Navy Directs 30-Day Review of F-18, T-45 Physiological Episodes

A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 2 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) on Feb. 9, 2017. US Navy photo.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift will lead a 30-day review on “the facts, circumstances and processes surrounding the recent physiological episodes involving T-45 and F/A-18 aircrew,” the Navy announced today.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran directed Swift in an April 21 memo to look into the physiological episodes themselves and how the Navy has attempted to address them – an effort that dates back to a 2010 integrated project team that stood up at Naval Air Systems Command to carefully document and attempt to prevent PEs in the F-18 fleet.

Swift will appoint members to the review team from across the Naval Aviation and Navy Medicine Enterprise and the engineering, legal and public affairs communities, according to the memo. Moran reiterates in the memo the Navy’s “unconstrained resource approach” to determining the cause of these events and preventing them going forward.

Navy pilots have experienced an increase in two types of physiological episodes: hypoxia due to problems with the On Board Oxygen Generator System (OBOGS), in which pilots may receive either insufficient oxygen or contaminated oxygen, and decompression sickness due to a failure of the Environmental Control System that causes a drop in cabin pressure.

The Navy had previously taken actions to address physiological episodes on the F/A-18A-D Hornets, F/A-18E-F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. On March 31, though, the Navy canceled 94 T-45C Goshawk trainer jet flights due to concerns about the potential for PEs, and on April 5 Commander of Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker announced an operational pause for the T-45s. That three-day pause turned into a 12-day pause, and when flights resumed last week the Navy had identified a temporary fix that would allow students to fly about 75 percent of the mission sets in their syllabus – but they cannot fly above 10,000 feet cabin pressure and cannot land on aircraft carriers until a permanent solution is identified.

Swift is to report back to Moran in 30 days, with his assessment of the situation and any recommendations meant to inform future operational, personnel and fiscal decisions, according to the memo.

  • NavySubNuke

    What is truly amazing is that it had to get this bad, with the majority of IPs refusing to fly, before the Navy would do anything to address the issue.
    I’m not really sure what is going on in NAVAIR these days but it sure isn’t anything good between the lack of spare parts and other necessary resources keeping over 50% of the planes out of the sky to things like this.
    It is rather telling that while Obama, Carter, and Mabus were distracted with nonsense like allowing transgenders to serve openly in the military and propping up the ship count with things like LCS that have no combat capability the military continued to atrophy away.
    Now we just have to see if congress has the guts to fix the mess or if they are just going to make it worse with a shutdown or extended CR.

    • Duane

      This issue has nothing to do with your long littany of political complaints, i.e., the the US Navy doesn’t want a fleet that you have personally specified.

      It is a technical performance issue that apparently the root cause(s) of which has not been discovered.

      • NavySubNuke

        “It is a technical performance issue that apparently the root cause(s) of which has not been discovered”
        Yet another answer that focuses on the minutia while completely ignoring the larger reality.
        The myopic view of a lifelong bureaucrat really is a wonder to behold.

        • Duane

          What you call “minutia” is actually life-threatening to the pilots and crew of these aircraft, and mission-threatening to the US Navy … if you think such matters are mere minutia, then perhaps that says a lot about you.

          • NavySubNuke

            Wow. Just wow. You really are something special.
            Duane, what I was talking about was your insistence that “It is a technical performance issue that apparently the root cause(s) of which has not been discovered” as minutia.
            If you were actually able to consider the big picture of my original post and not just sit there drooling and breathing through your mouth like a typical bureaucrat you would realize that the Navy would have gotten to the root cause quite awhile ago if they had actually cared about the life threatening conditions they were exposing the IPs and student pilots to BEFORE the IPs refused to fly.
            Read CDR Salamander’s post “The IPs revolt” to get more information on the matter — not that I expect you to understand where the pilots are coming from….

          • Duane

            You comment like a complete obnoxious idiot, really, get over yourself. I can’t believe they let you comment on this site, as you write like an angry 13-year old.

            What I wrote is absolutely the truth and factual and complete. The Navy has yet to determine the cause or causes of the failures, despite studying the issue for years. There may not be a simple one-size-fits-all fix for this .. but you apparently are too stupid to understand stuff like that. Get a grip and get over yourself.

          • NavySubNuke

            Duane what you should realize is that just because you are a bitter and angry old man who wasted his life slowing down the progress of his betters with small thinking and word games doesn’t mean rest of us are similarly limited.
            Thanks for playing though!

          • Duane

            You are the bitter old man, dude … the one who cannot accept that you are of the 20th century and do not possess the intellect or at least the emotional intelligence to “get” 21st century naval warfare. You are the one who bitterly complains that the Navy doesn’t listen to you on how they should construct and operate their fleet, you complain bitterly that people in the Pentagon don’t think like you and therefore deserve your condemnation.

            You are the ultimate projector of yourself onto me. You look in the mirror, see yourself, and pretend that I am your bitter old self. I have written here several times, get over yourself dude. You really should, and stop commenting here because you repeatedly embarrass yourself with your anti-Navy rants.

            Me – I am absolutely not bitter over anything to do with the US Navy. I am indeed ecstatic about our Navy (I say “our” meaning the US Navy … I am not really very confident that you are one of “us” and not simply yet another of Putin’s professional trolls attempting to sow discord and buzz-kill American confidence in our military). The Navy are not perfect, obviously, being human like any other human organization. But they are the very best in the world at what they do and how they operate, and their platforms, both ships and aircraft, and their weapons, are all first class.

            You are weirdly opposite and in denial of everything that is factual. You have this weird idea that being supportive of the US Navy, and of its people and its systems, is “bitter”.

            Maybe they teach you how to project and pretend the mirror image of real life is the way to successfully argue – at Putin’s School for Trolls.

          • NavySubNuke

            Oh Duane how wrong you are – it really is entertaining. I’m not even 35 and I’ve taken more dumps at depths great than 800 ft than you’ve had good ideas in your whole life.
            If you were smarter and actually capable of understanding the big picture you would realize that just because I’m not willing to stick my fingers in my ears, close my eyes, and say everything is fine like doesn’t mean I’m a pro-Russian troll. Just because I actually want the Navy to do the right thing instead of just doing the easy things that small minded folk like you prefer doesn’t mean I don’t believe in our Navy or want what is best for it.
            Go ahead and be a cheerleader all you like – I realize that is all your small mind is capable of. But at least recognize that there are others of us who are capable of thinking critically and considering the big picture and want what is actually best for the Navy rather than just wanting what the Navy is already doing.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            NavySub, you gotta understand something here. Duane knows everything. Just ask him about that. Only HE is permitted to have an opinion, to cite a source, to provide an anecdote, etc. Again, just ask him about that. He knows more than the program managers of major ship programs. Yet again, just ask him. If one DARES to not see this world in the way Duane DEMANDS that they do, they of course are “stupid”, “trolls”, “Russian trolls”, and a few select other descriptions. It’s just the way it is. If he carries on here that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, no amount of proof is going to convince him, because as I said, he knows all.

          • NavySubNuke

            Oh I understand —- I just find it very entertaining to slap him around a little for laughs and to actually see what sort of nonsense he will spout next.
            On another thread he just accused me of trying to keep the Navy in the 20th century while simultaneously arguing that the 70’s era Harpoon is the be all end all of cruise missiles —- you can’t make that kind of stuff up!

  • Michael D. Woods

    I’m surprised that a combatant commander, especially in the Pacific with North Korean tensions, is distracted by this when there are plenty of others to do it. But I suppose staff will do the actual work. As for decompression sickness, when I was flying it was explained that we needed oxygen because the differential pressure between the cabin (cockpit) and outside had be limited to about five psi to prevent decompression sickness and sinus and ear problems in case of explosive decompression in the small cockpit of a tactical jet and that at high altitudes that difference wouldn’t provide enough partial pressure of oxygen with atmospheric air. Has the pressure rule changed or the physiological appraisal of the situation? No one need answer, I just wonder.

    • Squid

      CNAF and CNATRA are under PACFLT C2.

      • Michael D. Woods

        That is a change. When I was doing it, it went:
        CNO-CNET-CNATRA-Training Air Wings

  • Refguy

    Interesting that the team needs a PAO. Too bad people can’t keep their mouths shut until the report is issued

    • NavySubNuke

      Somebody has to make sure the report is written “properly” so that it can be issued.

  • George Hollingsworth

    Well, the fact is the fifty year-old T2C trainer had a 5 psi pressurization differential. It began to pressurize at 8,000 feet and maintained that 8,000 cockpit until 23,400 feet, after which the cabin climbed while maintaining the 5 psi differential. Point being that the pilots could remove their masks at 23,000 feet and have an 8,000 cockpit that didn’t need oxygen. The aircraft was also fitted with a LOX system for supplemental oxygen that was trouble free.
    The T-45 has a 4 psi pressurization system that begins to pressurize at 5,000 feet but doesn’t reach maximum differential until 40,000 feet. At 13,000 feet of aircraft altitude the cockpit is already at 10,000 feet. Anything higher and supplemental oxygen is definitely required.
    So, a pressurization system that is 20% less effective that the 50 year old trainer, and one that has a weird pressurization schedule, and years’ worth of failure on the OBOGS system that is markedly inferior to bottled or LOX system.
    The pressurization schedule is on page I-2-84 of the NATOPS flight manual.

  • George Hollingsworth

    The time for the 30-day review is up. I am sure will be enlightened by the Admirals tomorrow.