Pentagon IG rips Air Force’s F-22 accident investigation

The Air Force is standing by its investigation into the F-22 crash that killed Capt. Jeff Haney despite a Pentagon report that states the Air Force’s conclusion that blames the pilot “was not supported by the facts.”

Haney’s F-22 crashed on Nov. 16, 2010 in the Alaskan wilderness on a training mission. The Accident Investigation Board concluded the accident occurred because Haney did not “recognize and initiate a timely dive recovery due to channelized attention, breakdown of visual scan and unrecognized spatial distortion.” However, investigators also found that Haney’s oxygen supply was cut off before the crash.

Controversy has followed the F-22 fleet since. Air Force leaders have grounded the F-22 fleet multiple times in the past three years after other pilots have complained about a lack of oxygen in flight. The Air Force has claimed to have since solved the problem by replacing a faulty valve on the pilots’ pressurized suits.

The Pentagon IG, in a report posted on their website Monday, poked holes in much of the Air Force’s investigation. It notably questioned why Air Force investigators failed to fully analyze the human factors “”such as hypoxia, gravity-induced loss of consciousness and sudden incapacitation.”

The Air Force said it stuck by its conclusion although it agreed that the report should have been written better.

The conclusion made by the Pentagon’s IG comes after Haney’s widow issued a lawsuit against many of the makers of the F-22 — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell International and Pratt and Whitney — for supplying a defective aircraft.

Ana Haney settled with the defense firms in August 2012.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • blight_

    Didn’t the last widow who sued a mfr (over the F-16, IIRC) get zilch from the DoD?

    • Common snese

      F-16 Wasn’t a piece of shit

      • blight_

        That’s not the point. The point is that Lockmart is using prior precedent from previous legal cases to ensure that they have the upper hand, even if their product kills pilots.

    • dennisbuller

      She may not get a dime, but she will make them all look very bad on 60 minutes.
      Which is how things actually get changed quickly in this country….

    • Grant

      The article clearly states that “Ana Haney settled with the defense firms in August 2012.” She sued, and they settled.

      • Kim

        And - as some have failed to notice - ‘defense firms’ is not the same as ‘DoD’. (But then again, come to think of it….)

  • BlackOwl18E

    The USAF has actually lost all credibility in my eyes over the F-22. They have been willing to go to great lengths to pretend that the F-22 doesn’t have a problem when all evidence clearly points to the contrary. They think that saving face is more important than saving pilots lives. My question is who is really more at risk here: USAF brass who want the jet or Lockheed Martin’s public credibility at a time when the F-35 is in danger.

    Either way I am under the strong impression that this has to do with politics and money rather than what’s right for the services.

    • chris

      so what else in new with our government?

  • Lance

    Shows the need to keep F-15 upgraded and ready. Also shows that some F-15 features need to incorporated into the F-22.

    • A. Nonymous

      Features such as a non-hypoxia-inducing oxygen systems? Just a guess…

  • Radish

    I have no doubt that the F-22 is excellent fighter, but she’s toxic to the pilot’s curtesy of the stealth coating paint job. If it wasn’t some our most advanced tech, we could remote pilot them.

    • Retired Pilot

      How in the world did you land on that conclusion? The Stealth coating is not toxic to pilots or the maintenance personnel (who are in contact with it a great deal more than a pilot)….and although you can remote pilot anything you cannot fight an air to air battle or engage in a dynamic environment remotely…the piloted aircraft will win every time.

      • Guest

        Is that really the case? For starters the drone aircraft only has to obey the G-force limits of it’s airframe rather than the G-force limits of it’s pilot so i’d imagine it would be turning inside of the piloted aircraft and performing manouevres that would be too brutal for a human to follow effectively? Is the situational awareness of the drone aircraft pilot an issue? If so, how long before the dogfighting is performed by computer which will be capable of making far quicker decisions while taking into account more variables?

        • oblat

          No its nonsense put out by the airforce to keep pilot jobs. The reality is that it is hard to think of a better situation for autonomous engagement than air to air combat.

          • Dfens

            No, the technology is not there yet. Both the close air support and the air-to-air mission require a pilot on board. One thing they could do that would make the aircraft more survivable would be to have a remote back up. That way if the pilot takes a bullet or blacks out, someone on the ground could take over and fly the airplane to either complete the mission or to bring the airplane back safely. For that matter, they could even take over an airplane the pilot had punched out of and do their best to guide it to a crash landing that minimizes damage to friendly civilians or maximizes damage to hostile forces.

      • The_Hand

        One theory I read was that the stealth coating gave off toxic gases at the altitudes and airspeeds the F22 can reach. Not sure if it’s been discounted yet or not.

        • Vaporhead

          That still would not explain how the fumes, if any, got into the filtered breathing air?

          • JCR

            Not close to saying that vapors are the case(far fetched for a number of reasons), but you need to look at the OBOGS on how it could happen. In the V-22, it’s OBOGS system was contaminated by its own fuel. Since fixed.

    • Jim Davis

      Okay, so you Jam the remotely piloted F-22 at close range when it’s very far from its command station. What do you do then?

      You’re going to rely on a computer program to declare something hostile and fire on it on its own?

  • Bill Roberts

    In air-to-air combat you maneuver in relation to your opponent. I guess if you were God and could see all and know all, you could remotely pilot an airplane in close in air-to-air combat; however, with the soda straw view of the world currently available I doubt you would come out on winning side “in a knife fight inside a phone booth”! The problem the F-22 had was a result of a lack of understanding of the physiological factors of high altitude, high g maneuvering. Hopefully, the problem is fixed now.

  • Big-Dean

    Well we all know why we call the generals in charge the “BRASS” is because “A S S” is what they are made of.

  • U.S.A

    wow thats really sad this happend. i hope they really fix all the problems that thing has before more people get killed. the f22is a really good plain fix its problems and itll be perfect

  • SJE

    Good to see the IG demanding some accountability. The AF brass is too interested in CYA and keeping on good terms with the contractors.

    • Vaporhead

      It’s just all smoke & mirrors. The Air Force nor Lockmart care about what the IG has to say.

  • Dfens

    There are 2 investigation boards that cover every airplane crash, the Accident Investigation Board (AIB) and the Safety Investigation Board (SIB). The results of the AIB are public and the results of the SIB are classified. The AIB report is essentially a whitewash. The SIB report is not. The Air Force is happy with this approach because the SIB can come up with conclusions without a lot of politics being involved, because of that, the findings of the SIB report can usually be fixed. The AIB report is fluff for public consumption. The contractors like this approach because they don’t have to worry about being sued for whatever the SIB comes up with, and they can be assured the AIB won’t find anything.

    As an engineer I don’t like this approach because classifying the SIB report means none of us is able to learn anything from crashes. Also, blame will be assigned to an engineer for designing something badly leading to the crash when in some cases it was not that person’s fault, and conversely fault will not be assigned to people who did screw up and should bear the impact of that screw up on their career. I worked on an airplane that crashed and a major f up by one group went unaddressed while another organization that had tried to both avoid and then later fix the problem ended up bearing the unofficial blame. What the hell, though, engineers are just cogs in the machine. Use one up and throw them away, and put another cog in their place.

  • Buffdrv

    I’ll take the SIB as you know what really happened without needing a lawyer present. I just wish the safety people had told me this when I was on a B-52 that had an incident.

    • Dfens

      On the other hand, you can be sure the publicly released AIB report will blame the pilot, just like they always do.

  • Musson

    Maybe the Air Force will follow the Navy’s lead and just park their F-22’s to save money.

    Then everybody will be happy.

  • HeavyArrow

    I still think they should but the oxygen generating system from the F-15 or F-16 into the Raptor. Why design something new like that when the old system works?

  • Mike

    Actually the af was right the pilot was suffering fron tunnel vision and the like because he was passing out! This fault was claimed to have been fixed. But if no O2 goes to the brain it shuts off. The conclusion that it was due to the pilot having an in ability to react properly BECAUSE the O2 system shut off is criminal on the AF part. Sort of like blaming two paper delivery ladies with getting them selves shot up by trigger happy cops in Torrance because they had the gall to drive a truck near a cops house.

  • John

    Maybe somebody should ask the Gov/ AF about the ATAGS vest that was just modified to allow AF pilots to use them again in the F22. This was piece of GFE equipment that transferred over from Legacy F16/F15 acft. Seems the contractor tried to sell the GOV/AF a new vest to go with the new acft and the GOV/AF opted to go with the GFE . HMMMM. Another fine COVER UP by the AF.

  • Paul

    I am a loss to understand the problem……is this fighter the FIRST supersonic weapons platform? Don’t we have other such aircraft & have had since the Korean air war? If ‘yes’, weren’t those cockpits serviced with crew breathe-able oxygen?

    The how is it we suddenly have an oxygen system which fails to provide the necessary volume of gas @ critical times? Surely existing systems in current aircraft inventories could be installed by ground crews with factory support.

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