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Inadequate Visual References in Flight Pose Threat of Spatial Disorientation 6 pages. [PDF 197K]
One form of spatial disorientation can occur at low altitude in visual meteorological conditions (VMC). The somatogravic illusion gives the pilot the false sensation that the aircraft is flying at an excessively high angle-of-attack and is therefore at risk of stalling.
Improved diagnosis and treatment have made it possible for many pilots to receive special medical certification despite conditions — including heart disease, Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma and leukemia — that once would have precluded them from obtaining approval.
Blood clotting has resulted in fatalities after blood stagnated in the lower legs during long periods of sitting without physical activity.
Wheel-well Stowaways Risk Lethal Levels of Hypoxia and Hypothermia 6 pages. [PDF 222K]
Successful stowaway flights spur others to try this form of illegal transportation. But a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration report indicates that few survive the high-altitude phase of flight, and those who do are often unconscious during descent and risk falling to their death when the landing gear is lowered.
The uncorrected-vision and “whisper-test” standards have been eliminated, and a new intermediate standard has been added for first- and second-class certification. Special issuance of an airman medical certificate for pilots who are insulin-dependent diabetics will be possible, but only for third-class certification.
Crew resource management (CRM) programs should be tailored to specific operations, rather than imported from other environment, says the report. Moreover, success depends on the active involvement of each program’s flight crews.