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VIDEO: unconscious F-16 pilot saved by automated systems

PUBLISHED: 16:20 22 September 2016

The student was flying a F-16 when he lost consciousness | Waylon Tsai, Flickr CC2.0

The student was flying a F-16 when he lost consciousness | Waylon Tsai, Flickr CC2.0

Pakaro Tsai

Shocking footage from the heads-up display shows the moment a student pilot blacks out, causing his F-16 to nosedive at a terrifying rate

The pilot’s life was only saved by the ground collision avoidance system, which righted the jet fighter just in time.

In the video, recently declassified by the US Air Force Arizona National Guard, we see the pilot attempt a roll during training over the American southwest.

The manoeuvre subjected his body to more than 8g, which caused g-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC). With the F-16 now out control, it plummets to the ground with its afterburner still firing.

Its altitude goes from 17,000 to under 10,000ft in a matter of seconds, diving at around 50 degrees and hitting over 600 knots.

The harrowing video captures the desperate calls from the instructor, who was flying alongside in another F-16 watching the nosedive. On several occasions, we can hear him command “2 recover”, unaware that the student is unconscious.

It is at this moment, with the ground fast approaching, that the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) takes control and brings the F-16 level.

Auto-GCAS works by comparing a prediction of the jet’s trajectory with a terrain profile. If it notices something is wrong, it is engaged.

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