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Aviation Decision Making

Human Factors, Illness

Human factors is a combination of aviation medicine, psychology, engineering and ergonomics. It encompasses all of these factors trying to understand the man/machine interface in the aircraft. It has its roots in aviation accident investigations resolving these where no clear technical cause could be found when aircraft became more and more reliable over the years.

An airplane should be pre-flighted and determined safe to fly, but what about the pilot? Be aware that there are a number of medical conditions which could lead to the pilot be grounded, and here we take a look at some of them.

To withstand all demands of the flying environment the pilot must be qualified, fit and maintain a healthy life style for a clear body and mind. The pilot must also be aware when he or she is not fit or even fatigued or is using drugs to counter minor illnesses which could affect your performance or even flight safety and that of the passengers.


On this we can be short: if there is any doubt about the pilots ability to fly the aircraft safely due to any illness - its a clear decision: do not fly! Minor illnesses as: sore throat, hay fever, head ache, diarrhea can be cured by mild medications or even be overcome by drinking clear fluids (water). Over the counter medicines should be avoided because of possible unknown side effects on the body or brain. Think of antihistamines, some of which are known to cause sleepiness or inattention.


Mental illness or a psychiatric problems could render a pilot incapable of flying an aircraft safely and a medical examination is required with follow ups to assess if the pilot safe again to fly after treatment or therapy.


Of interest to female pilots as they may wish to continue flying when pregnant. As long as the mother-to-be and her child remain in good health there is no reason why she can not fly. Regular checks would be needed to make sure everything is and remains good. Pregnancy symptoms could prevent the pilot of acting properly, but this will differ from female to female. As the pregnancy progresses there may be more risk involved for mother and child.


Hospital Sign

Some countries will invalidate a pilots medical license if he or she acquires aids. The reason being that subtle symptoms in the central nervous system (the brain) could develop into full blown aids. But one never knows when these symptoms become a problem.


Cancer is abnormal cell growth in the body resulting in tumors and sometimes death. With some forms of cancer a pilot is able to fly, certain treatments are also compatible with flying but this has to be assessed by your AME and the treating physician in each and every case. Keep in mind that cancers use glucose as their energy source, restricting carbohydrate intake to minimums or none at all may work as a prevention and even reduce this disease all together.


Those of you whom survived cancer and aspiring to be pilots, I can assure you that getting a medical certificate is most of the time not a problem at all. But you will need to supply the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) all the information they need to fully assess your case in detail.


The saying goes that you are what you eat. A body is like building a house, you need to use good construction materials or the thing will collapse. So it goes to say that you need to eat the food that is best for your body without stressing it and causing irreversible illness.

Eating healthier

Foods are broken down in the stomach and small intestine for easier absorption. Proteins are broken down into amino acids. Fats are broken down into fatty acids. Carbohydrates, composed of chains of sugars, are broken down into smaller sugars. Carbohydrates raise blood glucose where proteins (raise it a little) and fats do not at all.

Some carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains, raise blood glucose effectively, which stimulates insulin release, which stimulates fat storage, which drops glucose levels, stimulating hunger again...

Low Carb High Fat

Having a diet with too much carbohydrates or sugary drinks / food (the so-called 'healthy' western diet with at least 65% carbs) will eventually lead to a situation where the body has become resistant to the insulin secreted by the pancreas (Diabetes 2).

A body with a high blood glucose level where you are prescribed by your doctor to take insulin injections (not very wise, because there is enough insulin already) will result in increased body weight, problems with high cholesterol, eye problems, heart disease and all other commonly known western diseases.
Reducing the carbohydrate intake is the better solution to stabilize blood glucose levels.

More information to be found at The Diet Doctor. Go there, it will increase your quality of life and prevent an early death!

Written by EAI.

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