Battleland

F-22 Crash: The Widow Sues

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Air Force

Captain Jeff Haney

Jeff Haney’s widow has sued the builders of the Air Force’s hottest warplane, contending its defective oxygen-breathing system killed her husband in November 2010. Anna Haney has filed suit against Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell International and Pratt & Whitney in Illinois’ Cook County Court.

Haney, an Air Force captain, died when his F-22 crashed during a training flight in over Alaska. Her suit alleges that the F-22 had “an Onboard Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS), Environmental Control System (ECS), and other life support systems that did not safely or properly provide breathable oxygen to the pilot operating the aircraft.”

The Air Force concluded the oxygen system malfunctioned, but it blamed the crash on pilot error; the Pentagon inspector general has launched an investigation into the Air Force’s investigation into the crash. The Air Force grounded the F-22 to try to figure out why other pilots were having similar breathing problems but never were able to pinpoint the problem, or a fix.

These cases are always heartbreaking, and not just for the death of the loved one involved. Those who perish under such circumstances die doing what they loved to do, and generally as a member of a military service they loved. It pains many survivors to keep the wounds raw by filing such suits. Many end up being tossed out because of the so-called government-contractor defense (“We just built the airplane your husband died in, m’am, according to precise government specifications. So go blame them.”)

Battleland has interviewed several such widows over the years, and they often say they’re suing for the same reason: they want the gear fixed, so that their loved one’s death won’t have been in vain. And they don’t want other families to endure their pain.

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