DoD Buzz

Navy 'Chasing Ghosts' in Search for Cause of F/A-18 Pilot Dizziness


U.S. Navy leaders told Congress the service is struggling to identify a phantom-like problem that's caused F/A-18 Hornet pilots to experience flight dizziness since 2009.

These "physiological episodes occur when a pilot experiences a loss in performance related to insufficient oxygen," Rep. Michael Turner, a Republican from Ohio and chairman of the House Armed Services' Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, said at a Thursday hearing.

The condition creeps up on the pilot, rendering him dizzy and feeling confused, Navy officials said.

Service leaders sought to assure lawmakers that the service has developed emergency procedures to deal with the problem as an interim fix until a team of experts can find the cause of the problem.

"If we had a confidence problem in the airplane, we would ground the fleet," Rear Admiral Michael Manazir, director of Navy's Air Warfare Division, said. "We don't have that problem; that's why you don't see the commander of NavAir going to that extreme.

But the problem has been difficult to identify, Manazir said.

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