American F-35 fighter crashes due to pilot and helmet

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The United States Air Force (US) has released the results of its investigation into the causes of the accident fighter F-35A Joint Strike Fighter at Eglin Air Base, Florida, last May. The report, which was announced at the end of September, found several reasons for the Rp 2.5 trillion plane hitting the runway, rolling around and burning down, among them the factor of the pilot’s helmet.

The F-35 pilot helmet is known as the ‘magical’ helmet because it has a build-in screen that projects critical information across the pilot’s field of view. This technology is to match the F-35 jet that does not use a similar information display system on the cockpit screen. For the technology, this helmet is valued at Rp. 5.8 billion.

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In the accident last May, the helmet was said to not fit on the head pilot, leading the pilot to believe he is receiving inaccurate information at times of critical and confusion. “Pilots fixate on the wrong symbol of the helmet display at a critical stage by ruling out cross-checking,” the US Air Force wrote in its report, quoted from The Drive.

The information display on the helmet was also found to have an excessive brightness level. The green light that appears on the helmet screen is said to have disturbed the pilot’s view when picking up cues on the runway. This was exacerbated by the damp screen, which made it more difficult for pilots to focus.

Lockheed Martin’s fifth generation aircraft, the F-35A Lightning II, flies demonstrations over the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport, Paris, 20 June 2017.AP Photo / Michel Euler

It is known that the projection of data on the F-35 helmet screen has also been a problem on previous Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, as it is today. The Pentagon then brought improvements in 2019 by replacing the LCD technology on the helmet with OLED technology which is considered better in dim light.

The helmet problem was not alone in causing the accident. US Air Force reported the main factor causing the accident was the pilot’s decision to make the landing at too low an altitude. The angle of flight to the runway is only 5.2 degrees, 10 degrees sharper than the recommended angle.

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