Aviator's Fluid Balance During Military Flight

Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2018 Feb 1;89(2):94-98. doi: 10.3357/AMHP.4920.2018.


Introduction: A loss of 1% or more of bodyweight due to dehydration has a negative effect on cognitive performance, which could critically affect flight safety. There is no mention in the literature concerning the amounts of military pilots' fluid loss during flight. The aim of this study was to quantify fluid loss of pilots during military flight.

Methods: There were 48 aviators (mean age 23.9) from the Israeli Air Force who participated in the study, which included 104 training flights in various flight platforms. Bodyweight, urine specific gravity, and environmental heat strain were measured before and after each flight. Fluid loss was calculated as the weight differences before and after the flight. We used a univariate and one-way ANOVA to analyze the effect of different variables on the fluid loss.

Results: The mean fluid loss rate was 462 ml · h-1. The results varied among different aircraft platforms and depended on flight duration. Blackhawk pilots lost the highest amount of fluids per flight, albeit had longer flights (mean 108 min compared to 35.5 in fighter jets). Jet fighter pilots had the highest rate of fluid loss per hour of flight (up to 692 ml, extrapolated).

Conclusion: Overall, at 11 flights (11%) aircrew completed their flight with a meaningful fluid loss. We conclude that military flights may be associated with significant amount of fluid loss among aircrew.Levkovsky A, Abot-Barkan S, Chapnik L, Doron O, Levy Y, Heled Y, Gordon B. Aviator's fluid balance during military flight. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2018; 89(2):9498.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine
  • Aircraft
  • Body Weight
  • Dehydration / etiology
  • Dehydration / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Specific Gravity
  • Urine
  • Water Loss, Insensible*
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance*
  • Young Adult