On April 10, 2006 at approximately 08: 15 aircraft 03-041 was trapped in an F-22 cockpit for five hours after the canopy failed to open. Several attempts was made to open the canopy failed, and ultimately the canopy was cut by fire department personnel.
The F-22A Raptor is the U.S. Air Force’s newest, most expensive, and most capable aircraft ever, but sometimes even the best have a bad day.
On 10 April 06 at approximately 08.15h aircraft 03-041 had a Red Ball for a canopy unlock indication during pre-flight checks. Attempts to clear the problems by cycling the canopy failed.
After the final cycling of the canopy, it remained down and locked position, trapping the pilot in the cockpit. The aircraft subsequently ground aborted.
The 27th AMU consulted Lockheed Martin and the F-22A System Program Office to determine alternate methods to open the canopy and extract the pilot. However, all attempts by maintenance personnel to open the canopy failed.
After all maintenance options were exhausted, the canopy was cut by the fire department and the pilot was freed from the cockpit at approximately 13.15h.
According to F-16.net, screws which had loosened and backed out of their mounting holes were to blame for the stuck canopy on an F-22A Raptor 03-041.
While the chances of another canopy sticking in the closed position on an F-22 are remote, contractors retrofitted longer screws as a preventive measure sometime in the future.
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The incident at Langley has many Pentagon watchers shaking their heads. Tom Christie, the former director of testing and evaluation for the DOD, calls the F-22 incident at Langley “incredible.” “God knows what’ll happen next,” said Christie, who points out that the F-22 has about two million lines of code in its software system. “This thing is so software intensive. You can’t check out every line of code.”
Now, just for the sake of comparison, Windows XP, one of the most common computer operating systems, contains about 45 million lines of code. But if any of that code fails, then the computer that’s running it simply stops working. It won’t cause that computer to fall out of the sky. If any of the F-22’s two million lines of computer code go bad, then the pilot can die, or, perhaps, just get trapped in the cockpit.
One analyst inside the Pentagon who has followed the F-22 for years said that “Everyone’s incredulous. They’re asking can this really have happened?” As for Lockheed Martin, the source said, “Whatever the problem was, the people who built it should know how to open the canopy.”
Given that the U.S. military is Lockheed Martin’s biggest client, perhaps the company could provide the Air Force with a supply of slim jims or coat hangers, just in case another F-22 pilot gets stuck at the controls.
Status F-22 03-041 Stuck Canopy Report by TSgt Robinson 1st MXG/MXQ
Image Credits: U.S. Air Force Via spaceref