WASHINGTON — Concerns about increased risk of injury to F-35 pilots during low-speed ejections have prompted the US military services to temporarily restrict pilots who weigh less than 136 pounds from flying the aircraft, Defense News has learned.During August tests of the ejection seat, built by Martin-Baker, testers discovered an increased risk of neck injury when a lightweight pilot is flying at slower speeds. Until the problem is fixed, the services decided to restrict pilots weighing under 136 pounds from operating the plane, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, F-35 integration office director, told Defense News in a Tuesday interview.“The bottom line is, they have to get into the realm where the seat allows that weight of a pilot less than 136 pounds [to] safely eject out of the airplane,” Harrigian said. “They found some areas that particularly at slower speeds they were concerned about, so that drove the restriction that we have right now.”
So far, it DOES effect at least one pilot, and it’s not the sole female qual’d on the jet.
It’s not really a major issue. Heck, I suppose you could devise a workaround by having a lighter pilot simply carry ballast.