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Japan says F-35A pilot was likely disoriented before fatal crash in April


The pilot of a Japan Air Self-Defense Force plane that plunged into the Pacific Ocean probably experienced spatial disorientation, the JASDF said.
TOKYO — The pilot whose Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A Lightning II plunged into the Pacific Ocean in April probably experienced spatial disorientation, which led to the fatal crash, the JASDF said in a statement Monday.
“It is assumed that the pilot most likely was in a state of ‘spatial disorientation’ (in a state of losing a sense of equilibrium) and did not realize it,” the statement said.
The remains of Maj. Akinori Hosomi were recovered Wednesday, two months after his fighter went down about 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base, its home field in northeastern Japan, just before 7:30 p.m. April 9, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said on Friday.
Defense officials believe the advanced stealth fighter was performing normally and Hosomi was conscious up until the crash. The JASDF said the accident investigation is still underway and that its statement Monday represents the most likely cause.
The probable cause statement was based on information from radar, flight controllers, hearings conducted with other pilots and the F-35 multifunction advanced datalink, a system in the aircraft that allows pilots in a four-ship flight group to exchange data, according to the JASDF statement.
The JASDF found no signs the F-35A lost power during the fatal flight, or that Hosomi tried to recover the aircraft when it reached the minimum altitude to do so, according to their statement.

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