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T-6s Grounded; More OBOGS Issues

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I know they were doing OBOGS testing at DLF as well. From my understanding as I sit in the Middle East is they are scrubbing the OBOGS systems but they only have 4 testers in the AF. To my understanding they had to send trainers out to every base to teach them how to use this tester. Each aircraft takes ~4 hours to complete testing. All aircraft will be grounded until they pass the test. I know DLF had some jets up and running the last few days.

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20 hours ago, zachbar said:

2) The TCTOs are a "millimeter by millimeter" (their words) inspection of the OBOGS from the engine air inlet all the way to the mask. It replaces parts to make the system as close to factory new as possible.

3) This is not the end. No causal factor was found, but the OT&E unanimously agreed that returning the OBOGS to a factory new state made them comfortable flying the jet.

4) The top six of the T-6 SPO were fired due to mismanagement of the program and a fly-to-fail mentality. The zeolite bed maintenance interval has been aggressively reduced from 4,500 to 700 hours, and the new SPO is re-evaluating other fly-to-fail parts on the T-6 to possibly set replacement intervals. 19 AF is also using this debacle to highlight the ISS and EFIS issues.

5) The future: The team considers this only the beginning and are still trying to drill down to a single cause. From what the briefer said though, the OBOGS on all of the jets inspected were absolutely horrendous (kinked lines, valves stuck in the open position, evidence of water in the lines, general dirt and gunk, etc), and 79% failed the inspection, so there might not be one silver bullet. The incident T-6s are all still impounded, but an Edwards AFB test team will begin inspecting those independently and in parallel so the two teams can compare notes.

My biggest misgiving is that they never found a single causal factor, but I am not surprised given the fact that the entire system was basically never inspected since the plane left the factory.

Am I the only one shaking my head at all this?

When OBOGS problems first cropped up, the very first thing that should have been looked at was the maintenance interval of the individual components.  Based on the above, this all sounds like the Air Force is the proverbial idiot who never does any preventative maintenance on their car, then bitches when their  brakes fail, or the engine blows.

Firing some folks in the T-6 SPO sounds like a good start.  As a next step, how about finding someone to do some tracking of the performance of the system after parts are changed?  The airlines all have robust programs monitoring reliability of various systems, and making a cost/benefit decision on what should be replaced proactively, and what should fly-to-fail.  Someone at the SPO should be doing this going forward.

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55 minutes ago, yatalpan said:

The T6 SPO apparently had two SES fired.

I would love it if they were no-kidding fired, and walked off of the base with cardboard boxes in-hand.

Previous experience has shown me that SES folks are never exactly "fired."  They're just given new, less visible jobs elsewhere on the base.

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10 hours ago, Blue said:

I would love it if they were no-kidding fired, and walked off of the base with cardboard boxes in-hand.

Previous experience has shown me that SES folks are never exactly "fired."  They're just given new, less visible jobs elsewhere on the base.

“Reassigned.” Firing is something that real (non-gov) civilians do, and over peanuts at that.

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Vance class start dates are now delayed six weeks.  19-07 and 19-08 will be ghost classes.

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On 3/2/2018 at 6:53 AM, YoungnDumb said:

Much better than the original plan of tracking students who still had 16+ sorties left to go.

That happened. Two classes 18-13 and 18-14 tracked without some studs finishing formation or in some cases even starting it. 

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The T-6 at Luke finally departed today(it's been here for a while).  Hopefully the pilot/crew got to hang out in Phoenix for the weekend prior!

Edited by isuguy1234

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http://aviationweek.com/defense/t-6-pilots-report-eight-new-physiological-events

"U.S. Air Force student and instructor pilots have reported eight additional physiological events in the T-6 Texan II trainer since March 1, but the service is not currently considering grounding the fleet for what would be the second time since the beginning of the year.

The T-6s returned to the skies Feb. 27 after a series of hypoxia-like cockpit events caused an almost month-long stand-down for the fleet. The aircraft, which the Air Force uses to train all new pilot candidates, resumed flying operations even though a team of investigators still had not found the root cause of the incidents.  

And even though the Air Force has identified several issues with the aircrew breathing system, particularly with the Onboard Oxygen Generation System (Obogs), pilots are flying without any restrictions to flight parameters or training profiles, Col. Lee Gentile, deputy commander at the 71st Flying Training Wing, told Aviation Week in March.

In response to Aviation Week’s story, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Armed Services tactical air and land subcommittee, urged his fellow lawmakers to hold the Air Force accountable for the T-6 incidents.

“These physiological episodes are not individual incidents. At this point we have an aggregate of these mishaps that points to a systemic issue,” Turner tweeted April 17. “As we look to #FY19NDAA, attention must be paid to these unprecedented issues.”

The Air Force apparently decided returning the T-6s to flying status without identifying a root cause was worth the risk, as the service struggles to overcome a critical pilot shortfall. The almost month-long pause came at a significant cost, with undergraduate pilots unable to fit in crucial flight time.

This year the Air Force will fall about 200 aviators short of its goal to ramp up annual pilot production to 1,400—primarily due to the T-6 pause, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein recently told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

The urgency of the pilot shortfall helps explain why the Air Force is hesitant to ground the fleet once more. But service officials stress that the T-6 is safe to fly. The 19th Air Force has taken several steps to mitigate the problem, including implementing new inspection procedures, purchasing new testing and monitoring equipment, improving maintenance, and educating pilots on how to respond to inflight physiological incidents, Gentile said.

The “19th Air Force is not considering an additional operational pause of the T-6 fleet at this time,” Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Geneva Croxton said April 14. “The initial pause was a requirement due to the unexplained nature of the physiological events experienced.”

While the fleet was grounded, the 19th Air Force conducted a thorough inspection of the breathing system—from the engine bleed air port to the pilot’s mask—on all 444 T-6s, officials said. Investigators found several problematic issues with the system, such as excess moisture in the condensers and sticky valves, Air Force Material Command Chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski told reporters March 14. The team is fixing those issues, and also is re-evaluating how often certain components of the breathing system should be replaced in maintenance, she noted.

Interestingly, Lt. Gen. Lee Levy, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, noted that the service is not responsible for most of the maintenance on the T-6. The majority is all done through the contractor, Textron, he said in an April 16 interview.

“I can’t tell you what the root cause is for these [unexplained physiological events],” Pawlikowski said. “I can tell you they are real, but we have work to do.”

Pawlikowski added that she believes the aging of the aircraft has caused something to change, either in the air flowing into the Obogs or in the guts of the system. But she cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

The Air Force also is considering adding an automatic backup oxygen system to the T-6s, much like the service did with the F-22 fleet after the 2010 death of Capt. Jeff Haney, Pawlikowski said."

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4 hours ago, FishBowl said:

The “19th Air Force is not considering an additional operational pause of the T-6 fleet at this time,” Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Geneva Croxton said April 14. “The initial pause was a requirement due to the unexplained nature of the physiological events experienced.”

So what about the recent events is now explained? From all I know all the new events are on aircraft that have passed all the new inspections or otherwise modified / replaced parts.

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CSAF said the AF still doesn't know what the problem is (shocker). 

Also, one of the few Senators who actually served in the military said this (smh):

"Ernst asked if the Air Force is studying potential causes other than mechanical issues, including physiological issues such as pilots drinking too much coffee before flying."

https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/04/24/goldfein-air-force-still-looking-for-smoking-gun-causing-hypoxia-problems/

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1 hour ago, HeloDude said:

CSAF said the AF still doesn't know what the problem is (shocker). 

Also, one of the few Senators who actually served in the military said this (smh):

"Ernst asked if the Air Force is studying potential causes other than mechanical issues, including physiological issues such as pilots drinking too much coffee before flying."

https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/04/24/goldfein-air-force-still-looking-for-smoking-gun-causing-hypoxia-problems/

Having to pee really bad is technically a physiological issue. 

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Gosh. This reminds me of the AF blaming the F-22 pilot for not being able to breathe. Idiots.

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Not sure what your asking exactly, but the stand down was primarily to respond to questions on one of the more recent UPE incidences.  The brand new CC was made aware of the concern and did the smart thing by standing us down to talk in detail about every thing that had occurred and is going on with the investigation.  While there is still a good deal of concern about the system the primary issue was communication about these events both locally and throughout T-6 nation is fairly horrible, and so rumor mill was rampant.  While I have my concerns I am glad I am not at a UPT base flying with guys and gals who literally would be unable to land and recover the aircraft safely in the event I was degraded due to UPE.  We currently have local restrictions for operations both wx and dual crew requirements.  It blows my mind the UPT bases to my knowledge do not have any such thing, their IPs are in a far less enviable position to make any kind of "stance" versus a bunch of soon to be retired / separated IP's that are transitioning to Airlines.

However for specifics talk to your safety guy, they can give you the privileged scoop.  

 

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It was refreshing, I have high hopes but thankfully I've been let down so often that I am well prepared for failure =D.

 

Old SQ/CC simply didn't understand his squadron here, and the UPT bases are way out of alignment.  It was regularly announced that the other bases had no restrictions and that somehow we should be thankful for their benevolent leadership because we actually had some common sense restrictions.  The UPT SQ/s are jacked up either to scared to piss off mommy/daddy OG/Wing/AETC or are too worried about follow on assignments.  I say show a pair and get fired. god knows I've been trying... unfortunately doesn't work at my level.

 

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6 hours ago, YoungnDumb said:

Glad one Sq/CC finally made the decision without asking for mommy's (upper management) for approval.

He's already hired by a major and starts terminal leave next week.  

 

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"We finally found the problem. Your safety is our concern."

2-4 years! Am I the only one wondering how it could possibly take so long to fix one component of a relatively simple airplane?

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/23598/air-force-says-it-knows-why-t-6-trainers-are-choking-pilots-but-itll-take-years-to-fix

http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pages/2018/September 2018/USAF-to-Redesign-Oxygen-System-on-T-6-Fleet-After-Repeated-Hypoxia-Like-Issues.aspx

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3-4 years is exactly where big blue wants the timeline to “fix” everything.

Everybody that was around when the problem first showed up will have PCS/Separted/Retired and it’ll be “normal” ops for the fresh blood. 

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^yup.

At SOS everything the Generals discussed during our lectures was "our problem to solve."  When asked why, since they've ID'ed the problem so why don't they get to fixing it, the response was "we're all retiring soon and you are the future of the AF, so come up with a solution."  Great leadership.

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2-4 years is probably realistic...

Figure 6-9 months to design/pick a new system, plus 3-6 months to test it, time to produce the replacement parts, and time to retrofit into the fleet. Plus any time required to get funding for all of that.

Even swapping to O2 vice OBOGS would probably be along the same timelines.

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