F-22 pilot safety issues to go before Senate
(CBS News) The Air Force will expected to hear questions at Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about the safety issues facing its F-22 fighter jet.
The panel will likely probe into issues similar to those raised in Sunday's "60 Minutes" report, which questioned whether the Air Force's F-22 fighter jet was making pilots sick.
Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," Leslie Stahl said the Air Force will likely be asked at the hearing why it's taken so long to find out what's wrong. "I suppose they may be pushed into the same question we were asking (on "60 Minutes")," Stahl said, "Do you need to ground the plane again in order to find out what's wrong?' ... They say they have minimized the risk enough that they're comfortable keeping the plane in the air."
Two pilots say they've gotten dizzy and disoriented while flying the F-22, due to a lack of oxygen. The men are so concerned about their safety, and their colleagues, that they put their careers on the line by speaking with "60 Minutes."
Stahl said she has "no doubt" the Air Forces is doing everything they can to figure out what's going on with the planes, but she said, "It's baffling that it's taken a year-and-a-half."
Watch the full "60 Minutes" report:
The Air Force is investigating the plane's oxygen delivery system, Stahl said. "They're looking at - after looking at the oxygen tubes and all that kind of stuff that maybe when you fly that height, that fast, supersonic, there's some physiological change that takes place that interacts with the system of delivering the oxygen. They're going to look at each pilot, see what his particular health condition was when got in the plane to see if there's some little pinpoint thing they can do between the pilot and the system, but they don't know."
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., defends the pilots' right to come forward. He was featured in the the "60 Minutes" piece and said Tuesday that the plane is an important tool for the Air Force, but it's also important to get to the bottom of what's going on with the aircraft. He said, "I want to make sure we get to the bottom of this, but importantly, it's also that pilots who felt it was important to stand up and get this message out don't have their wings taken away because they feel this is outside of comfort level of where they should be flying."
Kinzinger said he hasn't made further headway with the Air Force. "Unfortunately we've requested a number of items from the Air Force. We had push back," he said. "In some cases they claimed executive privilege and in some cases they claim they didn't have access to various studies. We're getting ready to make the request again and for a few more items. We expect they'll comply or they won't comply, but we want to see it in writing so we can figure out what to do next."
For more on with Stahl and Kinzinger on the "60 Minutes" report and what comes next, watch the video in the player above.Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the Senate review of the F-22 performance was in response to Sunday's "60 Minutes" investigation.
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