Arizona air base lifts altitude restrictions on F-35A stealth jets
PHOENIX — Officials at Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix have given their F-35A fighter jet pilots the go-ahead to resume higher altitude flights after a month of restriction.
The altitude limit of 25,000 feet went into effect in June after several pilots complained of dizziness and other symptoms of oxygen deprivation while flying the planes.
The stealth fighter jets were grounded at the Glendale-area base June 9 but went back up with the restrictions on June 20.
Five pilots reported having experienced the symptoms from May 2 to June 8. Hypoxia symptoms include shortness of breath, confusion and elevated heart rate.
During each of the incidents, the Air Force said the jet’s backup oxygen systems had functioned properly and the pilots were able to land safely each time.
“We have learned a lot over the past two months and while we have yet to identify a singular cause, we have reduced potential causes for labored breathing, carbon monoxide ingestion, and refined our procedures and training,” Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, 56th Fighter Wing commander, said in a statement Wednesday.
The military has had a series of problems with various aircraft in recent years involving pilots suffering from lack of oxygen. The jet has not seen combat.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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