Aerobatics | Excerpts from AIM

From Medical Facts for Pilots Chapter of the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)

Mar 2014

Guidelines below are customized by from FAA instructions specified in the 2014 Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), the FAA's Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and ATC Procedures. Latest Web currency verification was Mar 2014.

a. Pilots planning to engage in aerobatics should be aware of the physiological stresses associated with accelerative forces during aerobatic maneuvers. Many prospective aerobatic trainees enthusiastically enter aerobatic instruction but find their first experiences with G forces to be unanticipated and very uncomfortable. To minimize or avoid potential adverse effects, the aerobatic instructor and trainee must have a basic understanding of the physiology of G force adaptation.

b. Forces experienced with a rapid push‐over maneuver result in the blood and body organs being displaced toward the head. Depending on forces involved and individual tolerance, a pilot may experience discomfort, headache, "red‐out," and even unconsciousness.

c. Forces experienced with a rapid pull‐up maneuver result in the blood and body organ displacement toward the lower part of the body away from the head. Since the brain requires continuous blood circulation for an adequate oxygen supply, there is a physiologic limit to the time the pilot can tolerate higher forces before losing consciousness. As the blood circulation to the brain decreases as a result of forces involved, a pilot will experience "narrowing" of visual fields, "gray‐out," "black‐out," and unconsciousness. Even a brief loss of consciousness in a maneuver can lead to improper control movement causing structural failure of the aircraft or collision with another object or terrain.

d. In steep turns, the centrifugal forces tend to push the pilot into the seat, thereby resulting in blood and body organ displacement toward the lower part of the body as in the case of rapid pull‐up maneuvers and with the same physiologic effects and symptoms.

e. Physiologically, humans progressively adapt to imposed strains and stress, and with practice, any maneuver will have decreasing effect. Tolerance to G forces is dependent on human physiology and the individual pilot. These factors include the skeletal anatomy, the cardiovascular architecture, the nervous system, the quality of the blood, the general physical state, and experience and recency of exposure. The pilot should consult an Aviation Medical Examiner prior to aerobatic training and be aware that poor physical condition can reduce tolerance to accelerative forces.

f. The above information provides pilots with a brief summary of the physiologic effects of G forces. It does not address methods of "counteracting" these effects. There are numerous references on the subject of G forces during aerobatics available to pilots. Among these are "G Effects on the Pilot During Aerobatics," FAA-AM-72-28, and "G Incapacitation in Aerobatic Pilots: A Flight Hazard" FAA-AM-82-13. These are available from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, Virginia 22161.

Additional Reference-
FAA AC 91-61, A Hazard in Aerobatics: Effects of G-forces on Pilots.

Content Derived from FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM): Chapter 8, Section 7 paragraph: 8-7-7
AIM reference current through Change 3 Aug 22, 2013, Web Accessed 20 Mar 2014

Related Chapters from the AIM:
Safety (Chap 7) | Medical Facts for Pilots (Chap 8)

This page discussed Aerobatics from Medical Facts for Pilots Chapter of the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).