Medical Aviation Congress spotlights health issues affecting fitness of pilots, cabin crew

Suggests ways to mitigate health challenges.

Experts have opined that musculoskeletal conditions continue to be one of the top reasons for temporary loss of medical license among pilots in the region, followed by other medical and surgical conditions. Speaking at the third edition of the Burjeel Medical Aviation Congress organized by Burjeel Hospital, Dubai, experts urged that creating awareness and developing effective solutions to address such issues affecting the physical ability of pilots is the need of the hour. The congress, held under the patronage of the General Civil Aviation Authority of the UAE, is a forum for healthcare professionals and experts to discuss the latest developments in aviation medicine.

According to Dr. Erik Hohmann, Chairman of the Congress, and Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Physician, Burjeel Hospital, Dubai, a total of 1,233 incapacitations were reported between 2018 and 2021 in the UAE alone.

“Musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis, back pain, joint pain, and injuries can cause pain, stiffness, and restricted mobility, affecting a pilot’s ability to perform their duties safely,” said Dr. Erik, adding that in such situations, the regulator temporarily suspends the pilot’s license to prioritize the safety of the passengers.

Mental health in focus

The increasing demands of the profession, the stress of flying and the ever-changing safety protocols can take a toll on the mental health of the pilots and cabin crew. The medical experts highlighted the importance of creating awareness among aviation professionals on taking better care of themselves through self-care strategies such as maintaining healthy lifestyle habits and seeking professional help when needed.

Dr. John Chalkley, Specialist Doctor – Aeromedical, Qatar Airways, said, “It is important to ensure the safety of pilots and other aviation professionals in the ever-evolving aviation sector. Regular screenings and awareness can help identify potential issues promptly. Aviation professionals should have access to resources to assist them in managing their mental health. This conference provides a valuable platform to discuss emerging issues and potential solutions.”

The Burjeel Medical Aviation Congress is an annual event in Dubai that brings aviation medical experts and professionals together to discuss and debate issues related to the aviation industry, particularly aviation medicine. This year’s highlights included a talk by Dr. Chalkley on the role of the airline medical department during the 2022 FIFA World Cup and by Dr. Andrew Foggitt, Consultant Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon, Burjeel Hospital, Dubai, on the common foot and ankle problems faced by aviation professionals.

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