Last week the Pentagon inspector general confirmed that its investigators are looking into the November 2010 fatal crash of an F-22 fighter. Pilots have long grumbled that the super-jet’s oxygen-supply system doesn’t always work properly, and there was evidence that played a role in the Alaska crash that killed Captain Jeff Haney. But the Air Force’s official investigation, released in December, concluded pilot error was to blame.
After the IG said it was reviewing the Air Force probe, General Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, basically dismissed the inquiry. “Quite simply,” he told a gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last week, “this is something that actually is fairly routine.” That would depend on one’s definition of “fairly routine.” According to the IG’s office, from “time to time” the IG undertakes “cursory reviews” of Air Force accident reports (despite repeated entreaties, the IG wouldn’t be more specific). But the F-22 probe “is not a cursory review,” the IG official says. The last time the IG did a detailed review of an Air Force accident was in 1994.