The Air Force has removed a weight restriction for pilots on the F-35 with a new ejection seat for the stealth aircraft. Until Monday there had been a restriction that no one weighing less than 136 pounds was allowed to fly the F-35 because of the possibility of neck injuries when the election seat’s parachute deployed.
Modifications to the system to prevent injuries include switches that slightly delay parachute deployment, making it safer for lightweight pilots, along with head support on the parachute risers. Helmet modifications also include the removal internal strapping and an external visor also reduce injury risks during ejection.
“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,” Brig. Gen. Scott L. Pleus, director of the F-35 integration office, said in a press release. “I’ve flown in this seat myself and believe, with these modifications, this is the safest ejection seat I’ve ever flown.” – UPI
The new seats are being installed on the aircraft right away which can accept pilots between 103 and 245 pounds. A new lightweight helmet is also being introduced.
Featured image F-35 Ejection Seating Testing by Martin-Baker