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Can't turn, Can't climb, Can't run: F35 problems


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Just wondering if anyone has heard any updates on Martin Baker's progress on the F-35 seat problems. Last I heard, they were working on some fixes, and in the meantime had put in place a pilot minimum weight. At that stage, only one male pilot was cashiered and the only female pilot was above the weight limit.


From memory, the fixes being planned were a head support panel between the risers, and a weight selection mechanism. I would guess that would be to alter charge or trajectory for the lighter pilots. The third idea was to develop a lighter weight helmet which is no easy task, given the amount of gear it holds.


Here's some good test bed footage:


Martin-Baker F-35 Lightning | Video | Martin-Baker Hub | Gradcracker - Careers for STEM Students

Edited by willedoo
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In answer to the above question, I've received this update:


"The F-35 program introduced the final standard of the US16E ejection seat in LRIP 10 in May of 2017. This configuration of ejection seat incorporates a pilot weight selection capability and a fabric panel on the parachute risers to control head motion. These features work together with a lightened helmet to allow the full weight range of 103 to 245 pound pilots to safely eject from the F-35.

These most recent seat improvements join other state of the art technologies previously incorporated into the F-35 escape system, including:


• F-35B auto-eject system (the first use of an auto-eject system in U.S. aircraft)

• Arm restraint system (the first in the U.S. Navy)

• Leg restraint system (the first passive system used in the U.S. Navy and Air Force)

• Single point water activated parachute harness release system on the F-35 seat (the first of its kind used worldwide)

• Inflatable airbag head support (also the first of its kind used on any ejection seat worldwide)


The F- 35 program has used modern technology to meet safety requirements more stringent than those used on any preceding tactical aircraft program. Upgrade of the F-35 fleet to the final standard US16E seat is underway and is scheduled to complete in 2020."

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103 lbs is 46 kgs. What are they planning on using for pilots? 14 yr old girls?? A male adult who weighs only 46 kgs would make a Biafran refugee look overfed.

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103 lbs is 46 kgs. What are they planning on using for pilots? 14 yr old girls?? A male adult who weighs only 46 kgs would make a Biafran refugee look overfed.

That is light; I hadn't done the conversion. I seem to remember when they had the test dummy neck breaking problem that it happened with weights under 60 or 65kg.. Can't remember the exact figure, but around that mark. Only one pilot was grounded until the above fixes were brought in. I think the problem was with low altitude ejections where seat/pilot separation is immediate. The low weight dummies caused the seat to rotate further forward, causing a bigger snapback of the neck when the main chute deployed, hence the addition of the panel between risers. At least, that's the way I understood it.


The new MK.16 seats are an interesting development. The test bed photo below gives a good view of the firing gun twin tubes in the cockpit. That part is a major change and opposite to previous seats where the inner firing tube remains with the seat and the inert outer and intermediate tubes remain in the aircraft. To save weight, the MK.16 uses the twin guns as the rails and does away with the need for a side chassis. Basically upside down. The charged inner tubes are part of the aircraft and the inert outer tubes are fixed to the seat and egress with it.


The drogue harness setup is moving more to the way the Russian seat works with a more rearward pull. A bit different from the older seats I'm familiar with where the drogue pull is on the top of the seat only. That had the effect at high speed of pilot and seat heading feet first into the wind blast, which is a safe way to de-accelerate. I guess there's always the possibility that the MK.16 drogue harness would have cutters to release the lower straps and provide the same feet first attitude if you egressed above chute deployment speed. The rocket pack angle would also be trying to push the seat onto it's back, so that might help in a high speed situation as well.




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