By the time hypoxia is detected, it’s often too late, and the higher the cabin altitude, the less time pilots have to realize that they need to don oxygen masks.
The U.S. Air Force approved a resumption of flight operations by the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, ending a four-month standdown ordered after pilots experienced symptoms of hypoxia. The suspected source of the problem, the aircraft’s onboard oxygen generation system (Obogs), remains under study.
More than 60 percent of business jet pilots do not use oxygen masks when required to by FAA regulations, according to a survey conducted by corporate pilot Chris Shaver for his master’s thesis at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Altitude chamber training is now being offered by MedAire at Arizona State University. The Tempe, Ariz.-based medical emergency response firm said the stand-alone, five- to six-hour course–available on demand–costs $995 per person and covers physiology, hypoxia, oxygen systems, altitude sickness and the physical effects of flight and decompression.
For aviators and their passengers, oxygen means life at the high altitudes traversed by modern aircraft. True high-altitude passenger flight wasn’t really practicable until large-cabin pressurization was introduced during the halcyon days of aeronautical development surrounding World War II, most notably aboard the Boeing 307 Stratoliner and Lockheed Constellation transports and Boeing B-29 bomber.
RAYTHEON BEECH KING AIR B200, WERNADINGA STATION, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA, SEPT. 4, 2000–Investigators were unable to find the cause of the pilot’s apparent hypoxia incapacitation.
The good news about the proliferation of new high-altitude airplanes–turbocharged piston or turbine–is that they offer users the chance to experience the increased efficiency of an engine that likes flying where the air is thin.
Van Nuys, Calif.-based Corporate Air Parts is offering a new hypoxia training course to civilian pilots. Training includes a video segment and two 15- to 20-minute
FlightSafety International and the Mayo Clinic have teamed to develop a new training program for hypoxia awareness. Under the contract, FlightSafety will install Mayo-designed training equipment at some of its learning centers.
“We do many things for the industry throughout the year, but this is the one that makes me the most proud,” said James Hoblyn, v-p of Bombardier’s business aircraft division, during his opening remarks at the 2005 Safety Standdown held recently in Wichita. This year marked the Standdown’s ninth year, and the sixth year since it was opened to corporate pilots outside of Bombardier. “Safety Standdown continues to grow in size and reputation.
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