Air Guard unit provides testing ground for mask development

Develop one aircrew mask that can be used on over 100 different air frames. That is the challenge for researchers assigned to the Joint Service Aircrew Mask-Fixed Wing Program.

In early December, JSAM-FW researchers visited the 167th Airlift Wing, a West Virginia Air National Guard unit here, to evaluate the JSAM’s ability to integrate to the C-5 Galaxy aircraft. Nicole Fletcher, an Army chemist and JSAM-FW systems engineer, said the mission was to “nail down configurations so that they can start working on logistics and test plans.”

Erin Kennedy, a chemical engineer for the Army and the Joint Service Aircrew Mask-Fixed Wing Research Team test and evaluation lead, gets feedback from Tech. Sgt. Michael Lindamood during a field evaluation of the mask at the West Virginia Air National Guard in Martinsburg, W.Va., Dec. 7, 2011. The Department of Defense research team had aircrew in each of the flying positions don the mask and accompanying gear and perform their duties on a C-5 Galaxy aircraft. (Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

Kevin O’Neal, a combat developer with the Air Force Air Combat Command, said the team hoped to hammer out a universal communications configuration for the mask and determine which hoses can be used for the breathing system.

The 167th Aircrew Flight Equipment section hosted the JSAM-FW team as it worked with 167th Airlift Squadron aircrew members in each of the flying positions. Pilots, loadmasters and flight engineers donned the mask and accompanying equipment. They then performed various functions of their duty mission. Afterward, each Airman completed a questionnaire, providing feedback to the JSAM-FW team.

Maj. Jeff Musser, a pilot with the 167th Airlift Wing, volunteered to participate in the assessment. He said the mask was definitely better than what aircrews are currently issued.

“It’s less cumbersome,” Musser said. “There’s increased visibility, and it’s easier to breathe through.”


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