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Concept: Civil aviation


The Germanwings Flight 9525 crash has brought the sensitive subject of airline pilot mental health to the forefront in aviation. Globally, 350 million people suffer from depression-a common mental disorder. This study provides further information on this important topic regarding mental health especially among female airline pilots. This is the first study to describe airline pilot mental health-with a focus on depression and suicidal thoughts-outside of the information derived from aircraft accident investigations, regulated health examinations, or identifiable self-reports, which are records protected by civil aviation authorities and airline companies.

Concepts: Psychology, Mental disorder, Suicide, Aircraft, Aviator, Airline, International Civil Aviation Organization, Civil aviation


In recent years, the U.S. commercial airline industry has achieved unprecedented levels of safety, with the statistical risk associated with U.S. commercial aviation falling to 0.003 fatalities per 100 million passengers. But decades of research on organizational learning show that success often breeds complacency and failure inspires improvement. With accidents as rare events, can the airline industry continue safety advancements? This question is complicated by the complex system in which the industry operates where chance combinations of multiple factors contribute to what are largely probabilistic (rather than deterministic) outcomes. Thus, some apparent successes are realized because of good fortune rather than good processes, and this research intends to bring attention to these events, the near-misses. The processes that create these near-misses could pose a threat if multiple contributing factors combine in adverse ways without the intervention of good fortune. Yet, near-misses (if recognized as such) can, theoretically, offer a mechanism for continuing safety improvements, above and beyond learning gleaned from observable failure. We test whether or not this learning is apparent in the airline industry. Using data from 1990 to 2007, fixed effects Poisson regressions show that airlines learn from accidents (their own and others), and from one category of near-misses-those where the possible dangers are salient. Unfortunately, airlines do not improve following near-miss incidents when the focal event has no clear warnings of significant danger. Therefore, while airlines need to and can learn from certain near-misses, we conclude with recommendations for improving airline learning from all near-misses.

Concepts: Airport, Northwest Airlines, Aircraft, Airline, Avianca, Airlines, Civil aviation, Southwest Airlines


General aviation (comprised mainly of noncommercial, light aircraft) accounts for 94% of civil aviation fatalities in the United States. Although thunderstorms are hazardous to light aircraft, little research has been undertaken on in-flight pilot decision-making regarding their avoidance. The study objectives were: 1) to determine if the thunderstorm accident rate has declined over the last two decades; and 2) assess in-flight (enroute/landing) airman decision-making regarding adherence to FAA separation minima from thunderstorms.

Concepts: United States, Florida, Colorado, Nebraska, Aviator, Civil aviation, Commercial aviation, General aviation


General aviation includes all civilian aviation apart from operations involving paid passenger transport. Unfortunately, this category of aviation holds a lackluster safety record, accounting for 94% of civil aviation fatalities. In 2014, of 1143 general aviation accidents, 20% were fatal compared with 0 of 29 airline mishaps in the United States. Herein, research findings over the past 30 yr will be reviewed. Accident risk factors (e.g., adverse weather, geographical region, post-impact fire, gender differences) will be discussed. The review will also summarize the development and implementation of stringent crashworthiness designs with multi-axis dynamic testing and head-injury protection and its impact on mitigating occupant injury severity. The benefits and drawbacks of new technology and human factor considerations associated with increased general aviation automation will be debated. Data on the safety of the aging general aviation population and increased drug usage will also be described. Finally, areas in which general aviation occupant survival could be improved and injury severity mitigated will be discussed with the view of equipping aircraft with 1) crash-resistant fuel tanks to reduce post-impact conflagration; 2) after-market ballistic parachutes for older aircraft; and 3) current generation electronic locator beacons to hasten site access by first responders.Boyd DD. A review of general aviation safety (1984-2017). Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2017; 88(7):657-664.

Concepts: United States, Accident, Airline, International Civil Aviation Organization, Civil aviation, Air safety, Commercial aviation, General aviation


Medical Guidelines for Airline Travel provide information that enables healthcare providers to properly advise patients who plan to travel by air. Treating physicians should advise patients in need of special services to contact the airline well before travel to find out if the required services will be available. Ensuring the required services are available throughout a journey can be challenging, especially when different airlines and aircraft types are involved. For example, airlines carry a limited supply of oxygen for use in the event of an unexpected in-flight emergency; however, this supply is not intended for use by passengers needing supplemental oxygen. Arrangements must be made in advance with the airline. Therefore, early contact with the airline is helpful. Thibeault C, Evans AD. AsMA medical guidelines for air travel: airline special services. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2015; 86(7):657-658.

Concepts: Physician, Aircraft, Airline, Avianca, Airlines, Air travel, Civil aviation, Southwest Airlines


Wildlife incidents with aircraft cost the United States (U.S.) civil aviation industry >US$1.4 billion in estimated damages and loss of revenue from 1990 to 2009. Although terrestrial mammals represented only 2.3 % of wildlife incidents, damage to aircraft occurred in 59 % of mammal incidents. We examined mammal incidents (excluding bats) at all airports in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Wildlife Strike Database from 1990 to 2010 to characterize these incidents by airport type: Part-139 certified (certificated) and general aviation (GA). We also calculated relative hazard scores for species most frequently involved in incidents. We found certificated airports had more than twice as many incidents as GA airports. Incidents were most frequent in October (n = 215 of 1,764 total) at certificated airports and November (n = 111 of 741 total) at GA airports. Most (63.2 %) incidents at all airports (n = 1,523) occurred at night but the greatest incident rate occurred at dusk (177.3 incidents/hr). More incidents with damage (n = 1,594) occurred at GA airports (38.6 %) than certificated airports (19.0 %). Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates) incidents incurred greatest (92.4 %) damage costs (n = 326; US$51.8 million) overall and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) was the most hazardous species. Overall, relative hazard score increased with increasing log body mass. Frequency of incidents was influenced by species relative seasonal abundance and behavior. We recommend airport wildlife officials evaluate the risks mammal species pose to aircraft based on the hazard information we provide and consider prioritizing management strategies that emphasize reducing their occurrence on airport property.

Concepts: Deer, Mammal, White-tailed deer, Giraffe, Even-toed ungulate, Airline, Civil aviation, Federal Aviation Administration


It is unusual for pulmonologists to be familiar with the European and US regulations governing the administration of oxygen during air travel and each airline’s policy in this respect. This lack of knowledge is in large part due to the scarcity of articles addressing this matter in specialized journals and the noticeably limited information provided by airlines on their websites. In this article we examine the regulations, the policies of some airlines and practical aspects that must be taken into account, so that the questions of a patient who may need to use oxygen during a flight may be answered satisfactorily.

Concepts: Policy, The Europeans, Political science, Aircraft, Airline, Airlines, Air travel, Civil aviation


Airline pilots may be at increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) because air travel has recently been established as a risk factor for VTE.

Concepts: Cohort study, Cohort, Epidemiology, Hedge, Airline, Avianca, Air travel, Civil aviation


Because of the physiological stresses of commercial air travel, the presence of a pneumothorax has long been felt to be an absolute contraindication to flight. Additionally, most medical societies recommend that patients wait at least 2 weeks after radiographic resolution of the pneumothorax before they attempt to travel in a nonurgent fashion via commercial air transport. This review sought to survey the current body of literature on this topic to determine if a medical consensus exists; furthermore, this review considered the scientific support, if any, supporting these recommendations. In this review, we found a paucity of data on the issue and noted only a handful of prospective and retrospective studies; thus, true evidence-based recommendations are difficult to develop at this time. We have made recommendations, when possible, addressing the nonurgent commercial air travel for the patient with a recent pneumothorax. However, more scientific research is necessary in order to reach an evidence-based conclusion on pneumothoraces and flying.

Concepts: Medical terms, Patient, Avicenna, 2002 albums, Science, Airline, Air travel, Civil aviation