Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 12

Running Head: PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

Physiology of Flight:

The Effects on the Human Body

Carlos Ochoa 1/14/2014

Waxahachie Global High

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

Table of Contents Abstract ............................................................................................................................................3 Introduction ......................................................................................................................................4 Effect of Altitude on the Body ........................................................................................................4 G-Forces ...........................................................................................................................................6 How G-Forces Affect the Body..6 Hypoxia.............................................................................................6 How Hypoxia Affects the Body.7 Adaptation to Low Oxygen Environments and the Effects on the Body ........................................8 Conclusion ...8 References .....................................................................................................................................10 Appendix A: Figures ....................................................................................................................11 Appendix B: Charts .......................................................................................................................12

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

Abstract

Aviation physiology deals with the physical and mental effects of flight on air crew personnel and passengers. It also involves the study of the effects of items such as high altitudes on the body, different pressures, and levels of oxygen. Human beings have the remarkable ability to adapt to their environment. The human body makes adjustments for changes in external temperature, acclimates to barometric pressure variations from one habitat to another, compensates for motion in space and postural changes in relation to gravity, and performs all of these adjustments while meeting changing energy requirements for varying amounts of physical and mental activity (FAA, 2012). During flight at different elevation the body can react in different ways. Many times we have a greater cardiac output and produce more erythrocytes. Through this our body exerts great amounts of energy, leading to muscle fatigue and other cardiac problems. In aviation, the demands upon the compensatory mechanisms of the body are numerous and of considerable magnitude. The environmental changes of greatest physiological significance involved in flight are: marked changes in barometric pressure, considerable variation in temperature, and movement at high speed in three dimensions (FAA, 2012) This paper will take you through some of the areas of flight physiology such as: effects of altitude, g-forces, and hypoxia and how these things affect a pilot and their body do. Also there will be discussion on how a pilot adapts to low oxygen environments.

KEYWORDS: AVIATION PHYSIOLOGY, CARDIAC OUTPUT, ERYTHROCYTES, BAROMETRIC PRESSURE, HYPOXIA

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

Introduction

The human body can adjust to acute and chronic reductions in its oxygen supply by increasing respiratory rate, chemical changes in the blood, and by increasing the production of red blood cells. As efficient as it is, however, a complete absence of oxygen will cause death in approximately five to eight minutes. In aviation, the demands upon the compensatory mechanisms of the body are numerous and of considerable magnitude.

Advances in aviation engineering in the past decade have resulted in the development of highly versatile aircraft. Since we are essentially creatures of the ground, we must learn how to adjust to the low pressures and temperatures of flight, and the effects of acceleration on the body (FAA, 2012).

Effect of Altitude on the Body

When it comes to flying, most problems at high altitudes are due to a drop in atmospheric pressure, as you ascend during a flight. Decompression sickness is one of the most dangerous issues that a pilot may face when flying. Nitrogen gas bubbles have a possibility of being formed in your bodily fluids and tissues when at that certain altitude. Humans are not physiologically established for high altitudes. This means they rely on life support equipment, such as oxygen masks, pressurized suits and cabins. Yet these are preventive measures, not full proof cures. There are still problems associated with flying at high altitudes such as hypoxia, hyperventilation, and trapped gas in your body like nitrogen, stated above.

The human body can withstand enormous changes in barometric pressure as long as air pressure in the body cavities equals ambient air pressure. Difficulty occurs when the expanding

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

gas cannot escape so that ambient and body pressures can equalize. Dysbarism is the various manifestations of gas expansion caused by decreased barometric pressure. These manifestations can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than hypoxia or hyperventilation. The direct effects of decreased barometric pressure can be divided into two groups: trapped-gas disorders and evolved-gas disorders.

During ascent, the free gas normally present in various body cavities expands. If the escape of the expanded volume is impeded, pressure builds up within the cavity and pain is experienced. The expansion of trapped gases accounts for abdominal pain, ear pain, sinus pain, or toothache.

Trapped-gas problems are explained by the physical laws governing the behavior of gases under conditions of changing pressure. Boyles Law (Figure A-1), states that the volume of a gas in inversely proportional to the pressure exerted upon it. Differences in gas expansion are found under conditions of dry and wet gas. Under dry-gas conditions, the atmosphere is not saturated with moisture. Under conditions of constant temperature and increased altitude, the volume of a gas expands as the pressure decreases. Gases within the body are saturated with water vapor. Under constant temperature and at the same altitude and barometric pressure, the volume of wet gas is greater than the volume of dry gas.

With a rapid decrease in atmospheric pressure, aircrews frequently experience discomfort from gas expansion within the digestive tract. At low or intermediate altitudes, the symptom is not serious in most individuals. Above 25,000 feet, however, enough distension may occur to produce severe pain. Figure (A-2), shows the dramatic expansion of trapped gas as altitude increases.

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

G-Forces

G-forces are mostly experienced by the body during flight, especially high speed flight and space travel. This includes positive g-force, negative g-force and zero g-force, caused by simple acceleration, deceleration and centrifugal acceleration. When an airplane turns, centrifugal acceleration is determined by =mv2/r. This indicates that if speed increases, centrifugal acceleration force also increases in proportion to the square of the speed.

How G-Forces Affect the Body

When an aviator is submitted to positive g-force in acceleration, the blood will move to the inferior part of the body, meaning that if the g-force is elevated, all the blood pressure in veins will increase. This means less blood reaches the heart, affecting its ability to function, with decreased circulation. The effects for negative g-force can be more dangerous producing hyperemia and also psychotic episodes. In space, G forces are almost zero, which is called microgravity, meaning that the person is floating in the interior of the vessel. This happens because the gravity acts on the spaceship and in the body equally, both are pulled with the same forces of acceleration and also in the same direction.

Hypoxia

Hypoxia is a state of oxygen deficiency in the body sufficient to impair functions of the brain and other organs. Hypoxia from exposure to altitude is due only to the reduced barometric pressures encountered at altitude, for the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere remains about 21 percent from the ground out to space (FAA, 2013). Anything that impedes the arrival or utilization of oxygen to the cell, places the body in a hypoxic state. There are many conditions

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

that can interrupt the normal flow of oxygen to the cells. The decrease in work capacity is related to the decrease of the oxygen of transportation velocity. One type of hypoxia related syndrome is mountaineering disease. A non-acclimated person that stays for a significant amount of time at a high altitude can develop high a high red blood cell count and hematocrit or a packed cell volume.

How Hypoxia Affects the Body

Some acute effects from hypoxia include: dizziness, laxity, mental fatigue, muscle fatigue and euphoria. See Appendix B for signs and symptoms of hypoxia. These effects will affect a non-acclimated person starting in an altitude of 3,650 meters above sea level. These effects will increase and can result in cramps or convulsions at an altitude of 5,500 meters and will end in an altitude at 7,000 meters with a coma.

Signs of hypoxia can be detected from an observer of the individual who is flying with them. The reason for this is that the signs are not a very effective tool for the victim to use when trying to recognize hypoxia with in them. Sign of hypoxia should not be referred with personal symptoms one gets while being induced with Hypoxia. Symptoms are the sensation a person detects while in a hypoxic state. Through this symptoms of hypoxia vary from individual to individual when experiencing this.

In Appendix B of the listed symptoms of Hypoxia visual impairment during flight is the least reliable (FAA, 2012). A pilots visual field can be affected, but at such a slow rate, that it could go unnoticed. Symptoms will generally appear before the pilot goes unconscious. Of all the symptoms, euphoria, a false sense of well-being, is the most dangerous during flight. Due to

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

this, a pilot will put their individual well-being, and even those of passengers who are on board as a low priority. This sense could lead to fatal consequences and should be avoided at all costs.

Adaptation to Low Oxygen Environments and the Effects on the Body Humans are currently always evolving and adapting to their surroundings in order to survive. Like many species this usually takes place over the periods of generations where one cannot see in a lifetime. Pilots, who normally fly at pressurized or unpressurized altitudes at more than 10,000 feet above sea level (ASL), commonly use a fixed oxygen source of some sort. This is comprised of containers fixed within the aircraft and maintained through the exterior fuselage valve. Pilots who use smaller aircrafts who usually fly below 10,000 feet ASL, often use a portable form of oxygen equipment that consists of a container, regulator, mask outlet, and pressure gauge. These portable forms of oxygen supply due to the size in order to limit weight and bulk in the aircraft have limited breathing durations. According the FAA, Typical breathing time for four people at 18,000 feet is in the range of 1-1/2 hours using a 22 cubic foot container (FAA, 2012). As where a larger aircraft pilot who uses a fixed oxygen supply, like those found in the exterior fuselage, offer a much longer duration of flight time at altitudes above 10,000 feet ASL. These durations can still vary especially with the size of the container in the aircraft and number of individuals who are leeching off the system during flight.

Conclusion Throughout the history of aviation, flight physiology has always been around and the way humans study the mental and physical effects on the body when flying. From studying the effects of items such as high altitudes on the body, different pressures on certain parts of the body, and levels of oxygen, human beings have a remarkable ability to adapt to their environment on ground and up

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

in the air. Even when the body is experiencing G-forces during flight, especially at high speed flight and space travel, the blood will move to the inferior parts of the body and increase blood pressure and cause strong pain. This includes positive g-forces, negative g-forces and zero g-forces, all caused by a form of acceleration, deceleration or centrifugal acceleration. Yet out of many physiology topics in the field of aviation, one of the most deadly is Hypoxia due to its effect on both your body physically but its strong mental effect as well. If something during flight that impedes the arrival or utilization of oxygen to the cell can place the body in a hypoxic state. Many of these illnesses or physiological problem associated when flying can all lead to deadly consequences leaving both the pilots and his cargo impaired or put in a fatal scenario. Today the FAA continues to educate it future pilots and instructors in the proper ways in handling these types of situations. From proper training with the right type of equipment installed in certain planes and emergency procedures put into place, risk is greatly reduced. In order to prevent mental and physical affects that can negatively affect the body during flight, everything starts with studying and gaining knowledge about these fields in aerospace from pamphlets, books, and taking proper certification and licensing classes if pursuing a career as a pilot.

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

10

References

AVweb. (1999, November 17). When Humans Fly High: What Pilots Should Know About HighAltitude Physiology, Hypoxia, and Rapid Decompression - AVweb Features Article. When Humans Fly High: What Pilots Should Know About High-Altitude Physiology, Hypoxia, and Rapid Decompression - AVweb Features Article. Retrieved February 13, 2014, from http://www.avweb.com/news/aeromed/181893-1.html?redirected=1

Altitude Effects on the Human Body - Public Health Command. (2011, February 1). Altitude Effects on the Human Body - Public Health Command. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from http://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/discond/ai/Pages/AltitudeEffects.aspx

FAA. (2012, March 20). Introduction to Aviation Physiology. Introduction to Aviation Physiology. Retrieved January 15, 2014, from http://www.faa.gov/pilots/training/airman_education/media/IntroAviationPhys.pdf

FAA. (2013, August 22). Chapter 8. Medical Facts for Pilots. Chapter 8. Medical Facts for Pilots. Retrieved February 13, 2014, from http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim/aim0801.html

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

11

Appendix A

Figure (A-1)

Klassen, E. (n.d.). The effects of altitude. Retrieved from http://www.pilotfriend.com/aeromed/medical/alt_phys.htm

Figure (A-2)

Klassen, E. (n.d.). The effects of altitude. Retrieved from http://www.pilotfriend.com/aeromed/medical/alt_phys.htm

PHYSIOLOGY OF FLIGHT AND EFFECTS ON THE BODY

12

Appendix B Figure (B-1): The following table describes the various levels at which hypoxia can occur: Location of Impediment Lungs Common Name Hypoxic Hypoxia Explanation Any condition that interrupts the flow of O2 into the lungs. This is the type of hypoxia encountered at altitude due to the reduction of the partial pressure of O2. Any condition that interferes with the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. Anemia and carbon monoxide poisoning are two conditions that can keep the O2 from attaching to the hemoglobin within the red blood cell. Any condition that interferes with the normal circulation of the blood arriving to the cells. Heart failure, shock, and positive G force along the Z axis will bring about this condition. Any condition that interferes with the normal utilization of O2 in the cell. Alcohol, narcotics and cyanide all can interfere with the cell's ability to use the oxygen in support of metabolism.

Blood

Hypemic Hypoxia

Blood Transport

Stagnant Hypoxia

Cell

Histotoxic Hypoxia

Figure (B-2): Some of the more common signs and symptoms of hypoxia are: Signs Rapid Breathing Cyanosis (Bluing effect of the skin) Poor Coordination Lethargy Executing Poor Judgment Hot & Cold flashes Tingling Visual Impairment Euphoria Symptoms Air Hunger Fatigue Nausea Headache Dizziness

Abstract Word Count: 249 Paper Word Count: 1256 Graded By: Jay Almond