The U.S. Air Force unfairly blamed one of its top pilots for the crash that killed him, according to the Pentagon’s in-house watchdog, rather than the malfunctioning oxygen systems on his stealth jet.
On Nov. 10, 2010, an Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighter piloted by Capt. Jeffrey Haney plunged into the ground in Alaska. Haney died instantly. The Air Force’s official Accident Investigation Board (AIB) investigation (.pdf) a year later accused the young pilot of losing control of his $377-million F-22. But it also admitted that the breathable-air system on Haney’s jet malfunctioned, with possible effects including oxygen deprivation, impaired judgment and even unconsciousness — symptoms collectively known as “hypoxia.”
On Monday, the Defense Department Inspector General called out the Air Force for blaming Haney. The Air Force, it said, pointed a finger at the deceased pilot without adequate evidence and without fully taking into account the possible effects of the failed oxygen gear — problems with which have been found to affect all 180 or so Raptors going back years. “The AIB Statement of Opinion regarding the cause of the mishap was not supported by the facts,” the inspector general states in its official report. (.pdf)