AF PEAT lead visits Joint Base Langley-Eustis

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  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

The Air Force Physiological Episodes Action Team (AF PEAT) lead visited the NASA Langley Research Center here March 28, 2019, to discuss the importance of an ongoing pilot breathing assessment (PBA) with senior Air Combat Command health officials and NASA engineers.

Brig. Gen. Edward Vaughan and his team met at the NASA Engineering and Safety Center to analyze F/A-18 and F-15 liquid-oxygen-configured NASA aircraft to better understand the causes of physiological episodes (PE) in the Navy and Air Force.

An unexplained physiological episode may include hypoxia, which is when someone’s bloodstream or tissue does not have enough oxygen supply. This can lead to shortness of breath, disorientation, faintness or fatigue – all of which can be deadly for a pilot.

That’s why the Air Force charged a team of experts to develop a process to measure the pilot respiratory rates, tidal volumes and air compositions that is standardized, systematic and easy to read. Understanding physiological episodes and reducing their frequency is not uniquely an Air Force problem, so the partnership among the Navy, Air Force and NASA is proving beneficial.

“Thanks to NASA's pilot breathing assessment, and their willingness to partner with the Navy and Air Force, we are breaking new ground in the science of manned flight physiology,” Vaughan said. “Our colleagues at NASA prove why ‘rocket scientists’ are so highly regarded in America. They bring an amazing intellectual and experimental capability to the challenge of physiological episodes.”

After his meeting at NASA, Vaughan visited the 1st Fighter Wing’s Aerospace and Operational Physiology Training Flight to see first-hand how physiological training is being accomplished using a reduced oxygen breathing device. These devices simulate the effects of hypoxia for the pilots to gain an appreciation for the mental and physical effects of the episode.