Medical norms for IAF pilots to be eased

New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) is prepared to strike off a number of ailments, which earlier forced pilots to be grounded, including some spinal conditions.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 64th International Congress of Aviation and Space Medicine here on Monday, Air Marshal Pawan Kapoor, Director General Medical Services (Air), said no evidence was found that spinal deformities like Schmorl’s nodes affect flying, though it was earlier thought that it may lead to fracture in case of ejection or other such situations.

Kapoor said there have been case studies where pilots with such problems have performed normally.

“We have bigger problem on the spinal deformities. We have taken a call on it after going through various evidences, national and international literature, and research we have done, we are now getting some of those pilots, who were rendered unfit for flying, and we are now taking out a new order where they will be considered for commissioning purposes,” Kapoor said.

“There are 10-12 ailments which have already been taken off. Rest are in the pipeline and decision is likely in next 7-10 days,” he said.

The Air Marshal said administrative approval is awaited for taking the ailments off the list.

Speaking at the inauguration of the conference, Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said although modern aircraft with advanced technology are highly capable, human limitations — physical, physiological and psychological — at times do not allow the exploitation of these machines to their full potential.

“This gap is bridged by the aviation medicine specialists,” he said.

The conference, which will conclude on November 7, has been organised by the Indian Society of Aerospace Medicine.

Aviation and space medicine specialist P. Navathe, giving the Andre Allard Lecture, said with advances in medicine and change in technology, pilots can now fly with a number of ailments like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and multiple sclerosis.

Navathe also cited the example of several amputee pilots who fly across the world.