Senators Call for Fighter Pilot Ejection Seat Review

Senators Mark Udall (D-Co) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo) have proposed an amendment to the yet-to-be-approved 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that would require the Air Force to review safety for its ejection seats:

Under the amendment, the Air Force also must analyze how ejection seats protect the head, neck and spinal cord during ejection; analyze any initiatives currently looking at making the ejection process safer; and update Congress on the status of any testing or qualifications on upgraded ejection seats.

The article notes this follows the recent release of the Air Force accident report saying Capt Lucas Gruenther was killed during the ejection from his F-16 off the coast of Italy.

A spokesman for Senator Udall seemed to clarify that the focus was on changes that have occurred since the seats were first fielded:

Udall spokesman James Owens said…“The Aviano incident has raised concerns about whether the current seats have adequate protections for pilots wearing advanced helmets and other helmet-mounted equipment that might not have been in use when the seats were designed,” Owens said.