A Cold War-era standard that made up part of a Navy aviator’s survival training is now a relic.
The Navy is developing a state-of-the-art chamber to help aviators recognize how they might respond to oxygen deprivation while in flight. In the meantime, the service has announced, it has replaced its long-used low-pressure chambers with portable devices to induce hypoxia — a condition caused by lack of oxygen — in personnel until its permanent replacement can be rolled out.
Hypoxia can cause confusion, tingling or unconsciousness. The Navy relied on the room-size, steel, low-pressure chambers for nearly seven decades. Trainees inside performed simple coordination tasks while oxygen and atmospheric pressure were reduced, which also could lead to decompression sickness, commonly referred to as the bends.
The Navy’s eight low-pressure chambers, including one at Norfolk Naval Station, had been in use as far back as 1947, and could no longer be repaired. Its most recent one was built in the 1960s, said Capt. Dan Patterson, officer in charge of the Pensacola, Fla.-based Navy Survival Training Institute.
"We wanted to look for new technologies, a better way to train our…