Background: There is little quantitative information that can be used to predict the incidence of airsickness from the motions experienced in military or civil aviation. This study examines the relationship between low-frequency aircraft motion and passenger sickness in short-haul turboprop flights within the United Kingdom.
Methods: A questionnaire survey of 923 fare-paying passengers was conducted on 38 commercial airline flights. Concurrent measurements of aircraft motion were made on all journeys, yielding approximately 30 h of aircraft motion data.
Results: Overall, 0.5% of passengers reported vomiting, 8.4% reported nausea (range 0% to 34.8%) and 16.2% reported illness (range 0% to 47.8%) during flight. Positive correlations were found between the percentage of passengers who experienced nausea or felt ill and the magnitude of low-frequency lateral and vertical motion, although neither motion uniquely predicted airsickness. The incidence of motion sickness also varied with passenger age, gender, food consumption and activity during air travel. No differences in sickness were found between passengers located in different seating sections of the aircraft, or as a function of moderate levels of alcohol consumption.
Conclusions: The passenger responses suggest that a useful prediction of airsickness can be obtained from magnitudes of low frequency aircraft motion. However, some variations in airsickness may also be explained by individual differences between passengers and their psychological perception of flying.