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Air Force to release F-35 weight restrictions

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christine Groening)

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christine Groening)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force leaders recently removed the restriction that kept pilots weighing less than 136 pounds from flying the F-35A. The restriction was imposed in 2015 due to concerns about the risk during ejections in a portion of the flight envelope.

After rigorous testing to ensure the escape system works reliably and safely in all planned conditions and across all pilot weights, three distinct modifications were implemented. A switch was installed on the seat that slightly delays parachute deployment at high speeds and decreases parachute opening forces for lightweight pilots. Additionally, a head support panel has been mounted on the rear risers of the parachute to prevent the pilot’s head from moving backwards during an ejection. Finally, the overall helmet weight has been reduced through both the reduction of internal strapping material and the removal of an additional external visor, which decreases injury risk during parachute opening.

“I have personally briefed every single F-35 pilot in the United States Air Force about these changes to their ejection seat, and I’m confident our pilots are no longer concerned with the safety of the F-35 ejection system. I've flown in this seat myself and believe, with these modifications, this is the safest ejection seat I've ever flown,” said Brig. Gen. Scott L. Pleus, the F-35 Integration Office director.

In July 2015, during the manufacturer’s ongoing testing, analysis identified an unacceptable risk of neck injury during parachute deployment/opening for pilots weighing less than 136 pounds. The requirement is for the seat to be certified for any pilot weighing between 103 and 245 pounds.

Air Force headquarters and wing leadership took immediate action to ensure pilot safety and work with the manufacturer to meet requirements for the seat. The F-35 Joint Program Office has been working in concert with contractors to develop options to reconfigure the ejection system.

The new ejection seats are already being retrofitted into the existing fleet, and the lightweight helmets are available in pre-production now, while full production starts later this year. The Air Force has received more than 100 F-35As to date, trained more than 400 pilots and accumulated more than 40,000 flight hours.

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What's your favorite jet on display here at the museum? Feel free to share your photos here! #avgeek
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In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 We moved in great shape. The entire group was out in 3 hours but the plane we are now at…Gee it’s terrible. Had my first trip over the lines today in the SPAD and not quite as well pleased with same as I expected to be.
Check out info on the Boeing Bird of Prey and feel free to share photos from your visit. http://bit.ly/2MK4ffN The Boeing Company
In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Was out on patrol this morning. Met 6 enemy planes. Had a combat without results. Have the SPAD in shape now and expect to go out tomorrow with a patrol. Just received news that we are moving tomorrow. Certainly we are leaving the finest home we have yet had.
Are you visiting the museum today and what is your favorite gallery? Feel free to share your photos here! #avgeek #aviation #airhistory
In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Lt. Meissner and Lt. Coolidge brought down an enemy plane today. Lt. [William W.] Chalmers has failed to return. Up to a late hour.
Are you visiting the museum today? Feel free to share your photos here! #avgeek #aviation #airhistory
This is the cockpit of the Fairchild C-119J Flying Boxcar on display in the fourth building. Congrats to all who guessed correctly! --> http://bit.ly/2LAQuzH
In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Arrived here OK with new plane. Heard the 95th Squadron lost 2 men today, certainly hard luck.
Are you visiting the museum today? Feel free to share your photos here! #avgeek #airhistory #F22
In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Arranged for a 230 [horsepower] SPAD which I will fly out tomorrow. Had a trial trip today. It certainly is a most wonderful Buss.
Happy Independence Day and thank you to all of our service members, past and present! If you are at the museum today, be sure to share your photos here. #IndependenceDay
In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 Big day. We left for Paris. Most of the boys had a big time. I spent a peaceful afternoon and returning then went to bed.
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In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, here is an entry from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's diary from on this day in 1918. Click here for more on this diary--> http://bit.ly/2HUDGTz and here for other #WWI featured artifacts--> http://bit.ly/2yGUbl3 The 27th Squadron lost 2 more today. One of my hometown – [Lt. Walter B.] Wanamaker was his name. I must call on his family when returning home.
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