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Controversial F-22 Raptor Suffers 'Class A' Accident During Test Flight

An F-22 Raptor -- an upwards of $150 million plane by Lockheed Martin that had many delays during production and since has been the center of a controversy involving pilot's health -- has been in a "Class A" accident.

During a training flight last Thursday, Dave Majumdar for Flight reports, the Raptor flown by a student pilot was in an accident that is worth more than $2 million in damage. The pilot was not injured.

According to the U.S. Air Force Accident Investigation Board, a Class A accident is one that results in a "fatality or total permanent disability, loss of an aircraft, or property damage of $2 million or more." Flight reports the Air Force saying they expect the damage caused in this accident will be repaired.

The Air Force has not released details about the accident or the damage, but did note that the oxygen system, which has been accused of failing at times within the last few years causing some pilots to experience "hypoxia," was not a factor in this accident.

According to Flight, this was only the pilot's second time flying the plane after he had been trained first in an academic and simulator setting.

Recently, two Air Force pilots with whistleblower status speaking out against the oxygen system feared they could eventually lose their jobs for not flying in the planes. The two men felt they were being punished and even agreed to get back in the cockpit fearing further reprimand. The Air Force stated that these pilots were in fact protected under whistleblower status.

Last year, the Raptor was grounded for five months after the oxygen system malfunctioned. From 2008 through 2011, there were 12 reported cases of hypoxia conditions where the pilots experienced inattentiveness, blackouts and even seizures. The Air Force has the planes back in the air but as recently as the end of February, it said it hadn't quite pinpointed the exact problem with the oxygen system.

And just last week, the Pentagon announced that it had awarded Lockheed Martin a $19 million contract to install an automatic backup oxygen system in the F-22 Raptors as a precaution. Reuters reports that 40 planes will be retrofitted with the additional system.

[H/T Business Insider]

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