In the days after that incident in which a landing crew worker flew off with a commercial turboprop airplane, attention focused on pilots, and what it takes to become one. There are shortages of commercial and military pilots. And according to Sig Christenson, military reporter for the San Antonio Express-News, Air Force trainees are reporting unexplained physiological problems when they take to the skies in training planes.
Christenson says there have been 39 incidents involving T-6A Texan II aircraft since the trainers were put back into service after a month-long grounding.
“The Air Force hasn’t come up with a clear reason for these incidents,” Christenson says. “They’ve been investigating with NASA, they’ve been investigating with the Navy. The Navy has been looking at this for close to two years, and has not found an answer.”
Christenson says the incidents involve the onboard oxygen generation system, causing pilots to believe that the life support system on the planes is failing. The Air Force has released no specific information about the problem, beyond the number incidents.
Christenson says a 2010 incident ended in the death of Captain Jeff Haney.
“Pilots are concerned about this problem because it’s central to being able to fly the airplane at higher altitudes,” Christenson says. “You have to be able to trust the onboard oxygen generation system.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.