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Aeromedical Factors


Fatigue can be a significant hazard to flight safety because a pilot may not be aware of its affects until serious errors are made.

An experienced pilot trying to meet a schedule can fail to perceive operational pitfalls.

Visual Issues

To scan for traffic during straight-and-level flight, the pilot should systematically focus on different segments of the sky for short intervals.

The use of regular white light, such as a flashlight, will impair night vision adaptation. To preserve night vision, reduce interior lighting intensity to a minimum level.

An abrupt change from climb to straight-and-level flight can create the illusion of tumbling backwards. A rapid acceleration during takeoff can create the illusion of being in a nose up attitude.

Without visual aid, a pilot often interprets centrifugal force as a sensation of rising or falling.

Abrupt head movement during a prolonged constant rate turn in IMC or simulated instrument conditions can cause pilot disorientation. Abrupt head movement during a prolonged constant rate turn in IMC or simulated instrument conditions can cause Coriolis illusion. Because of this, pilots should use caution when retrieving charts or dropped objects.

Visual Illusions

An upsloping runway can create a visual illusion where the runway seems narrower than expected.

When landing on a narrower-than-usual runway, the pilot may experience a visual illusion that the aircraft higher than actual, leading to a lower-than-normal approach.

Haze creates the illusion of being a greater distance than actual from the runway, and causes pilots to fly a lower approach.

A sloping cloud formation, an obscured horizon, and a dark scene spread with ground lights and stars can create the illusion known as false horizons.

Spatial Disorientation

A pilot is more subject to spatial disorientation if body signals are used to interpret flight attitude. The vestibular system is the sensory system responsible for most of the illusions leading to spatial disorientation.

The sensations which lead to spatial disorientation during instrument flight conditions must be suppressed. Complete reliance should be placed on the indications of the flight instruments. Read and interpret them, then act accordingly.

Hypoxia, Hyperventilation, and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Tunnel vision and cyanosis are two symptoms of hypoxia.

Symptoms of hypoxia may be difficult to recognize in a single-pilot operation before the pilot's reactions are affected. If symptoms of hypoxia occur, promptly descend to a lower altitude.

Carbon monoxide poisoning, usually encountered during flight as a result of an exhaust leak, is considered to be a form of hypoxia called hypemic hypoxia. Other forms of hypoxia include hypoxic and histotoxic. A test question may refer to a form called hypertoxic, but this is not a type of hypoxia.

Hyperventilation occurs when an excessive amount of air is breathed into the lungs. To counter the symptoms of hyperventilation, slow the breathing rate.