Aviation physiology is an important study for pilots, flight attendants, and other crewmembers. Its study is often brushed over during initial training. The current FAA Knowledge Examination system emphasizes multiple choice knowledge at the expense of a deeper understanding. The course will give you a chance to explore aviation physiology in a more focused manner. Physiology is the biological study of a living organism, in whole or in part. Aviation physiology is narrowed to study of specific issues or problems that confront the human body in the flight environment. For example, the study will focus on many issues that affect the body in flight including: • Night vision and its limitations.
• High altitude flight and its affect on breathing.
• The problems associated with caffeine, nicotine, and over-the-counter medications. • Fatigue and how it is a primary cause in aviation accidents. • Mental health and how the approach to it by the FAA is actually more harmful to public safety. Why Crewmember Health is so Important
Many accidents are related to the illness or sickness of crewmembers. To some, you might think the obvious effect of a heart attack on a pilot is where accidents may result. There are many other problems, however, that may result in serious accidents and fatalities. Poor sleeping habits may result in fatigue, which is an overwhelming factor in many of today's aviation accidents. The crash of American Airlines Flight 1420, in 1999 at Little Rock, Arkansas, may have happened because of fatigue issues that impacted the decision-making abilities of the pilots. The most important system in the aircraft is the well-functioning body of a crewmember. No other system has the ability to solve problems, adapt to changing circumstances, invent unique solutions, and assure safety for the passengers and aircraft. Basics of Physical Wellness
In this lesson, we will discuss some basics of health and nutrition that will aid crewmembers to attain optimal health. Prior to every flight, pilots are required to pre-flight the aircraft. This pre-flight involves an examination of major control surfaces, systems, tires, engines, and other components. Before a flight can be made, the pilot must determine that the aircraft is airworthy. How often do we perform a pre-flight examination of our most important system, our own bodies? The FAA has helped to develop a checklist called the "I'm Safe Checklist", to help you determine your own airworthiness: • Illness: do you have any symptoms of a sickness or illness? • Medication: are you taking any prescription or over-the-counter drugs? • Stress: are you dealing with any emotional, psychological, or physical stresses that may effect your flying? • Alcohol: have you consumed any alcohol in the previous 8 hours or are still under the influence of any alcohol consumed within the previous 24 hours? • Fatigue: are you tired? Did you have sufficient rest prior to the flight? • Emotion: are you upset or concerned about personal issues? (loss of job, family problems, divorce, death in family, etc.) Health Maintenance
An important factor of maintaining wellness, is the development of a health maintenance program, similar to a maintenance program for an aircraft: This program will increase your job security as an aviation professional. The loss of your FAA Medical Certificate may cause you to lose your employment. It will also improve your ability to deal with physical and mental stresses, which are faced constantly in the flight environment. These are the vital elements of a health maintenance program: • An effective diet which includes a wide variety of nutritious elements in accordance with established standards. • An exercise program which emphasizes heart strengthening exercises. • Mental and spiritual health.
This type of a program will help prevent many...