Hypoxia: What Pilots Need to Know

By Amy VanderHouwen, Aircare International - August 6, 2019


Ask any Pilot about the procedure for a rapid depressurization at altitude…You will get the same response every time.  PUT ON YOUR MASK! But what about a slow or insidious depressurization? The signs can be subtle and far more dangerous. Even though you may have a couple of minutes of useful conscious time at FL250, if you don’t recognize the early symptoms of hypoxia you will not respond appropriately and be just as compromised.  Are you confident that you would be able to recognize the signs and correct the problem before blacking out? This early recognition is the key to combating insidious hypoxia and the focus of our presentation. 

The effects of hypoxia vary widely from person to person. You may start to feel euphoric, dizzy, lightheaded, nausea, numbness, anger, fatigue or denial. You may experience shortness of breath, a fast heart rate, or rapid breathing. Along with these symptoms, hypoxia is likely to be accompanied by slow decision making skills, changes in hand-eye coordination and poor judgment. The difficulty in identifying signs of hypoxia lies in the fact that it affects everyone differently. You won’t know what your specific signs are until you’ve physically experienced it for yourself. 

Aircare International brings realistic hypoxia training to their presentation with a next generation ROBD training system that provides invaluable hands-on experience by providing a safe means for crewmembers to personally experience the advanced signs, symptoms and effects of high altitude hypoxia while operating a flight simulator. This program, including classroom discussion and hands-on experience, gives pilots, flight techs, cabin crew and frequent flyers the opportunity to experience a slow-onset decompression without the potentially harmful side-effects and discomfort of a decompression chamber. 

Aircare International is dedicated to the advancement of safety standards and is excited to be partnering with Bombardier Safety Standdown again this year to help elevate safety standards industry wide through hands-on and knowledge-based aviation safety training.