Hypoxia and Aviation

Topics: Oxygen, Atmospheric pressure, Breathing gas Pages: 8 (3027 words) Published: May 20, 2013
Hypoxia and Aviation

1. Introduction 3
2. Literature Review 4
2.1 Hypoxia and Flying4
2.2 Pressurized Atmosphere and Hypoxia7
3. Methodology10
4. Analysis/Discussion 11
5. Conclusion15
6. Recommendations 16
7. Reference List17

1. Introduction
The paper presents a review, analysis and a study on hypoxia faced by pilots at higher altitudes. The problems faced by pilots of commercial flights and the ways and means of dealing with them with the use of technology used in military planes will be the point of discussion and focus. The usage of technology that minimize the conditions of hypoxia at higher altitudes and reduction of its negative effects on pilots who deal with the decision-making process while flying will be analyzed, and recommendations will be given.

2. Literature Review
2.1 Hypoxia and Flying
One of the foremost things of the primary requirements of humans is air. The lack of air, most specifically oxygen leads to hypoxia. Initially, hypoxia has been reported at high altitudes on mountains by mountaineers and after the invention of aero planes, the pilots and flight attendants are experiencing the effects of hypoxia and are feeling stressed. This can be termed as ‘decompression sickness’ (Aronson K.S; 1991, 26) and has been first recognized or occurred in 1841. According to Aronson K.S (1991, 26) French mining engineer M. Triger ‘noticed symptoms experienced by miners after working in deep mine shafts’ (Aronson K.S; 1991, 26). Number of workers had been prone to joint pains and became vulnerable to paralysis. However, the same sickness can be felt in a reverse manner, which can be known as hypoxia, when pilots fly in the air in a plane. While they fly in the air, they experience decompressed air and don’t have enough oxygen in the air, they breathe that is required for normal metabolic activities of the body. Though the effects of hypoxia are not the same in different pilots, but it cannot be ignored as the effects are noticeable. In this regard, Aronson K.S (1991, 26-27) mentions about Paul Bert who is famous with the name ‘father of altitude physiology’. As per the information provided about Paul Bert’s observations, though the commercial flights flying at a height of around 20,000 feet, with the pressurized atmosphere, still there is a lack of pressure of oxygen as the pressurization is only enough if the aircraft flies at 8,000 feet. That means the commercial aircrafts are flying at a height of around 20,000 feet with the pressurized atmosphere that suits the altitude of 8,000 feet, which results in hypoxia in pilots and flight attendants. Aronson K.S (1991, 28) explains that when one goes to 18,000 feet above the sea level, the atmospheric pressure will be reduced to half of the standard pressure of one atmosphere. That means the oxygen availability also decreases by half of the amount that is available at the normal atmospheric pressure at sea level. Consequently, the pilots and flight attendants who face this situation almost daily suffer from hypoxia (Aronson K.S: 1991, 25-28). Thus, pilots and flight attendants are mostly associated with hypoxia. Though the commercial air craft cabins do have enough induced pressure for the safety and health of passengers and crew, the hypoxia depends on altitude. According to Sharma L (2007), at an altitude of 8,000 feet, people in flight may experience mild hypoxia (Sharma L; 2007), even in the presence of the pressurized atmosphere. That means the pressurized atmosphere is lacking oxygen, and it is necessary to pressurize the flight interiors with oxygen. Exposure to hypoxia can be considered into two categories. Simply being exposed to hypoxia and working in the atmosphere of hypoxia. Pilots and flight attendants do work in the hypoxia atmosphere, and it may result in headache and loss of memory, which may affect future working status of pilots. The...
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