Navy says progress made combating pilot safety issue

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) – Pilots reported mysterious and dangerous ‘physiological episodes’ on the T-45 training jets in 2017. The U.S. Navy is still trying to figure out what’s blocking pilots’ ability to breathe. Months into an exhaustive, top-to-bottom review of the T-45 Goshawk, there are lingering safety concerns.

“At this point we have approximately 85% of the aircraft modified. Any aircraft that doesn’t have these modifications, doesn’t fly,” said Rear Admiral Sara Joyner, who is leading the investigation.

Now the Navy’s fleet of jets designed to train pilots for battle is almost back up to full speed.

In the spring, T-45 pilots reported dizziness and difficulty breathing. Joyner says her team was able to rule out contaminants but did find problems with air flow.

“If you were to take a straw and try to breathe through a straw, that’s pretty difficult to do over time. It’s going to be tiring,” said Joyner.

In addition to a series of changes made to the jets, student pilots are now better taught how to identify warning signs given off by the planes and their bodies.

The Navy expects to have all the planes flying again by February. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi is eagerly anticipating the final results.

“We’re making progress; we’re getting more to the bottom of this issue. I’m not satisfied that we have the complete answer,” said Wicker.

Wicker praised the Navy’s recent action in dealing with this. He says it’s crucial that they maintain their momentum in finding answers, because without these planes the military’s future becomes less secure.

“When the students can’t fly, then their graduation is delayed and there are active duty missions that need to be carried out around the globe,” said Wicker.

Along with the Navy investigation, Congress and President Trump also recently approved a $10 million dollar award be available to an outside group that identifies underlying problems with the T-45.