April 25, 2006 (by Jeff Hollenbeck) - A pilot was trapped in an F-22 cockpit for five hours on April 10th after the canopy failed to open. Several attempts to open the canopy failed, and ultimately the canopy was cut by fire department personnel.
Rescuers were forced to cut the canopy on F-22 03-041 to extract the pilot after the canopy failed to open by any other means. [USAF photo]
The F-22A Raptor is the U.S. Air Force's newest, most expensive, and most capable aircraft ever, but sometimes even the best have a bad day. On 10 April 06 at approximately 08.15h aircraft 03-041 had a Red Ball for a canopy unlock indication during pre-flight checks. Attempts to clear the problems by cycling the canopy failed. After the final cycling of the canopy, it remained down and locked position, trapping the pilot in the cockpit. The aircraft subsequently ground aborted.
The 27th AMU consulted Lockheed Martin and the F-22A System Program Office to determine alternate methods to open the canopy and extract the pilot. However, all attempts by maintenance personnel to open the canopy failed.
After all maintenance options were exhausted, the canopy was cut by the fire department and the pilot was freed from the cockpit at approximately 13.15h. the cause of the problem is currently being investigated. Replacement cost of the canopy will be $182,205.