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Students perform a mask test during altitude chamber training in 2008. The students are trained to recognize symptoms of hypoxia, an oxygen deficiency of the tissue and blood cells that causes impairment of function at high altitudes. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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 Air Force Research Laboratory
Six altitude chambers coming to Wright-Patt

Posted 6/24/2010   Updated 6/28/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Derek Kaufman
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


6/24/2010 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Department of Defense announced June 14 the award of a $38.3 million contract to Environmental Tectonics Corp., Southampton, Pa., for hypobaric research chamber design, development, manufacturing, testing, installation, integration and initial provision of spare parts and associated support equipment.

Air Force Research Laboratory's 711th Human Performance Wing here will receive four of the chambers for aircrew research and equipment qualification testing.

The four fully-instrumented altitude chambers will be supplemented by two hypobaric training chambers that will support aircrew and student training on the operational effects of high-altitude flight. One was relocated from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and the other from Holloman AFB, N.M. Both are already on site at Wright-Patterson. Installation and certification for the two training chambers is expected to begin later this fall. They are expected to be cleared for operation in 2012.

The altitude chambers will support Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission-directed consolidation of human performance and aerospace medicine research missions to Wright-Patterson from Mesa, Ariz., Brooks City-Base, Texas, and Holloman AFB.

"This is one of the final major contract awards for world-class equipment in support of the move of the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine to Wright-Patt under the 711th Human Performance Wing," said Frank Albanese, AFRL's director of Base Realignment and Closure.

The contract award to Environmental Tectonics for the four research chambers follows a $34.4 million award to the company in September 2009 for the installation of a single high-G centrifuge to be used for operational training, research and equipment qualification testing. Mr. Albanese said installation of the centrifuge inside the nearly 700,000-square-foot Human Performance Wing complex has already started with the laying of supporting utilities and pouring of its massive foundation, some 30 feet in depth.

The centrifuge construction and certification is expected to be completed in 2012, and the research altitude chambers are scheduled to begin operating in 2013. Until each is certified for use, those respective missions will continue to be performed by contractors at existing facilities at Brooks City-Base in San Antonio.

The systems support training of aircrews, as well as research conducted by flight surgeons, aerospace physiologists and others.  Officials said the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace medicine will bring more than 6,000 students annually to Wright-Patterson to attend courses and training ranging from a few days to several months.  The first bioenvironmental engineering classes are slated to begin in December 2010.



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