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Luke AFB to resume F-35 flights after hypoxia investigation

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Luke Air Force Base will resume flights of F-35 fighter jets Wednesday after experts and engineers investigated a series of events in which pilots reported symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

Officials with the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke said Monday that no specific root cause for the events was identified but specific concerns were eliminated as possible causes including maintenance and aircrew flight equipment procedures.

F-35 flights at Luke have been grounded since June 9 after five separate in-flight incidents involving reports of hypoxia since May 2.

According to the Air Force, the plane’s backup oxygen system in each instance worked as designed and the pilot was able to land the plane safely.

“While I am encouraged that F-35A flight operations will resume tomorrow at Luke Air Force Base with new measures in place to ensure the safety of our airmen, I am concerned that the Air Force still has not identified the root cause for the recent increase in physiological events.

“It is clear that there are broader problems with this program that the Air Force must fully investigate and remedy,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a partial statement.

McCain is chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Luke, located 15 miles west of Phoenix, is one of the Air Force’s primary F-35 pilot-training bases.

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