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DoD IG slams AF investigation of F-22 crash

Feb. 11, 2013 - 12:37PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 - 12:37PM  |  
Capt. Jeff Haney died when his F-22 went down in Alaska in November 2010.
Capt. Jeff Haney died when his F-22 went down in Alaska in November 2010. (Air Force)
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An Air Force investigation into a fatal F-22 crash that blamed the pilot "was not supported by the facts" and failed to sufficiently analyze how oxygen problems contributed to the crash, the Defense Department Inspector General said in a report released Monday.">Capt. Jeff Haney was killed Nov. 16, 2010, during a night training flight near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The Air Force's Accident Investigation Board, chaired by Brig. Gen. James Browne, found in">its December 2011 report that Haney did not react quickly enough to activate the Raptor's emergency oxygen system or recover from a dive as he struggled to breathe. Air Force officials, however, later said the findings did not blame Haney, with former Chief of Staff retired Gen. Norton Schwartz">telling Congress last year that Haney could not manage a "complex contingency" and lost control of the jet.

The Defense Department's Inspector General reviewed">the AIB report "for adherence to the procedures set forth" in the Air Force instruction governing crash reports. The IG found that "the AIB Statement of Opinion regarding the cause of the mishap was not supported by the facts within the AIB report consistent with the clear and convincing standard of proof established" in the Air Force instruction.

The Inspector General found:

The AIB report cited three causal factors channelized attention, breakdown of visual scan and unrecognized spatial disorientation. However, the IG found, these factors are separate, distinct and conflicting. The report "does not clearly explain their interrelationship and how it is possible that all three factors concurrently caused the mishap." This failure calls into question the AIB's statement of opinion, the IG report states.

The AIB determined that the pilot's mask was in a full up position throughout the mishap, but this determination was not supported by the facts in the report. This inaccurate determination affected several conclusions drawn in the report.

The board listed non-contributory factors in the crash, but inadequately analyzed human factors, including hypoxia, gravity-induced loss of consciousness and sudden incapacitation. Without more analysis and documentation, it is not clear how the AIB determined that these factors did not contribute to the crash, the IG found.

The report lacked in-depth analysis of physiological responses to a lack of oxygen and the activation of the emergency oxygen system.

Finally, the IG found that 60 of the 109 references in the AIB's conclusion were not correct or did not cite information in the full report.

The report, signed by Randolph R. Stone, deputy inspector general of policy and oversight, recommended a review by the Air Force's Judge Advocate General. That review should include "appropriate action in light of the findings in this report regarding the AIB report Statement of Opinion and other deficiencies."

The Air Force, in comments submitted to the Inspector General, concurs that part of the investigation report could have been more clearly written, but disagrees that the conclusions were based on incorrect information or a lack of in-depth analysis.

"The Air Force found that the AIB President's Statement of Opinion regarding the cause of the mishap was supported by clear and convincing evidence and exhausted all available investigative leads," the Air Force wrote.

The DoD IG, in response, said that the Air Force did not exhaust all investigative leads and reiterated that the Air Force failed to follow its own AFI in investigating the crash.

As a result of the IG findings, the Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle convened a group of experts, led by Maj. Gen. Charles Lyons, director of operations for Air Combat Command, to review the accident investigation, said Lt. Col. Max Despain, an Air Force spokeswoman.

"That group of experts validated the AIB's conclusions," she said.

Carlisle also reconvened the AIB to explain items the IG found to be unclear, and the Air Force will brief the IG about any changes made to the report, Despain said.

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