The scope of back pain in Navy helicopter pilots
Phillips, Andrea S.
McCauley, Michael E.
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This thesis investigates issues such as long hours in the cockpit, ineffective seat padding, Night Vision Goggle (NVG) use, and the constant vibrations involved in flying rotary wing aircraft. Pain is subjective and severity is difficult to compare between individuals. Does back pain affect safety of flight? In the military helicopter aviator community, 60-80% of helicopter pilots are estimated to be suffering from back pain (Sargent & Bachmann, 2010). The Sargent and Bachmann article, written by flight surgeons, suggests that back pain is an issue in the helicopter community. This article also suggests that back pain may be affecting safety of flight but did not have data to support that claim. This thesis provides an analysis of the scope, incidence and severity of back pain in the Naval Aviation helicopter pilot community. Of the helicopter pilots who responded to the survey, 88.1% are experiencing back pain during at least 50% of their flights and 34.4% admit this pain is affecting their situational awareness. This thesis gives the Navy information to decide whether to invest R&D funds in antivibration seat technology and whether flight safety is affected.
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.Human Systems Integration Report
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