Air Force to relax medical norms for recruitment; 12 ailments including Asthma and Heart Diseases off the list

A number of abnormalities or ailments, which earlier rendered people unfit for Indian Air Force recruitment or fly aircraft, are set to go.

With no scientific evidence to back notions such as spinal deformities affecting flying, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will soon modify its medical norms for pilots and new applicants declared unfit due to this reason.

Also, with new medical technologies and better drugs available for treatment, several ailments such as asthma, diabetes, coronary heart diseases, hypertension may also go off the list. The Medical Board of the Air Force has also removed 19 drugs, such as anti-diabetics, which were earlier considered as a “taboo” for flying.

“After going through several national and international literature and various research we have done in our Institute Of Aerospace Medicine, we are trying to get some of the pilots, who are declared unfit for flying…we are looking into those issues and taking out a new order for commissioning, selection and flying purposes and they will be declared fit (for flying),” Air Marshal Pawan Kapoor, Director General Medical Services (Air) said referring to spinal deformities.

“There are 10-12 ailments which have already been taken off. Rest are in the pipeline and decision is likely in next 7-10 days,” he said. He said while medical approval has been taken, an administrative approval is awaited and the process will be done without compromising with flight safety. Kapoor was speaking on the sidelines of 64th International Congress of Aviation and Space Medicine here, attended by experts across the world from the field of aerospace medicine from both civil and military aviation.

The Air Force had formed a committee comprising spinal surgeons, neurosurgeons, physicians, radiologists and it was concluded that there is no evidence to show these spinal deformities can affect flight safety and physical capability and conditioning of the pilots. Referring to Schmorl’s nodes, a spinal abnormality, he said, “There was a perception that these nodes make you prone to spinal fractures, backaches but no scientific literature was found.” Certain abnormalities such as disk degeneration will be taken up on a case to case basis, Kapoor said.

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