Air Force Blames Oxygen-Deprived Pilot in Deadly F-22 Crash

USAF: F-22 Pilot Did Not Pass Out

After rocketing towards the earth for a quarter of a minute without movement, Haney suddenly lurched at the stick, pulling it back in an attempt to pull out of the dive. But by then it was too late. Three seconds later Haney crashed into a valley in the Alaska mountains approximately 100 miles north of Anchorage. Recovery crews would find debris as far as a quarter mile away from what the report called a "crater" where the plane hit.

Browne said in the report it was most likely Haney entered into the fateful dive accidentally while trying to "resolve airflow to the oxygen mask." Why Haney didn't immediately recognize the dive and pull out is a mystery, but the Air Force said he did not pass out and was more likely disoriented.

The Air Force also does not know why Haney did not activate the emergency oxygen system or, once he was at a proper altitude, simply take off his mask to breathe. Rescue teams noted that both the emergency oxygen system was never activated and Haney was found with his mask securely in place.

One possibility, the report says, was that the ring that has to be pulled to activate the emergency oxygen system, if dropped, can be difficult for a pilot to recover -- apparently similar to dropping one's keys between the seat and console of a car. The other possibility, the one the report repeatedly comes back to, is that Haney simply failed to save his own life.

"The [mishap pilot] displayed channelized attention when the OBOGS [oxygen system] stopped airflow to [his] oxygen mask and caused severe restrictive breathing," the report says. "The [pilot's] channelization attention caused a breakdown in his visual scan. This delayed recognition of the [aircraft's] attitude and thereby delayed the corrective actions necessary to recover the [aircraft]."

The final mystery: The Air Force still doesn't know what caused the malfunction that started it all.

READ: USAF Aircraft Accident Investigation Board Report (PDF)

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