Flying and asthma

Discussion in 'The Fleet Air Arm' started by michael2424, Jul 21, 2007.

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  1. Hi,

    I am keen to join the Royal Navy as a Pilot and was wondering if someone could clear up the grey area surrounding having asthma and being eligible to fly.

    Two years ago I visited my AFCO and the careers liaison officer advised me that as long as I hadn't suffered from asthma for 4 years or longer and was completely fit and healthy otherwise, then I would be able to train if selected (unlike the RAF where any previous history deems the applicant unsuitable for flying roles).

    I 'suffered' from asthma when I was 13 (now 22) and used the one inhaler I had for 2 months on advice from GP. It was never serious and today suffer absolutely no effects whatsoever.

    Obviously I can get clarification when I re-visit my AFCO but if anyone can give me some current information on this matter that would be appreciated as I can't find a conclusive answer.

    Many Thanks
  2. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Hello Michael, welcome to the site.

    Sorry to be the potential bearer of bad news, but I think ANY incidence of asthma may be a bar to entry for aircrew due to lung-scarring, RAF & RN medical standards are identical so far as I'm aware in this area, so I'm at a bit of a loss where your ACLO got this information from.

    For non-flying trades you need to be 4 years clear of asthma attacks, asthma wheeze or treatment from the symptoms of asthma.

    Ultimately the Medical Officer is the one who says yes or no, but I've yet to see anyone with a previous history of asthma passed fit for aircrew.

    Most certainly do not let this put you off applying as hopefully someone will prove me entirely wrong, ideally the Medical Officer.

  3. Thanks for your reply guys - it is nice to know that there are people out there that can provide some good tips and useful information!

    Just in relation to the above post, 'letthecatoutofthebag', are you a pilot/medic in the Navy? I just ask as your knowledge appears to be quite extensive and was wondering if there is anywhere I can access this type of specific information online?

    Thanks also 'Ninja_Stoker' for your views, I shall definitely take them both into consideration.. If you have any other thoughts or comments I would be grateful if you could let me know.

  4. heya, i had an instance of asthma as a 3yr old with nothing since, i have been accepted as aircrew pending an appointment at the institue of naval medicine (enhanced check after normal meds). After speaking to the top medical bloke at Gosport he advised me that the issue surrounding asthma was that it was likely to rearise late 20's/early 30's and as such would be a waste to employ such an individual!! other issue is that peak flow may be low which means the individual would not be able to breathe out constantly whilst rising from a sunken heli!! hope this helps
  5. Hi Jonno,

    Thanks for the info..You obviously declared the fact you had asthma when applying, but regardless of how serious it was when you were young, which in your case, appeared fairly insignificant, will the medical staff probe deeper in any case?

    I just ask as I had a very mild case when I was 13, used an inhaler for 2 months and have never used it again - although I question that surely if I was diagnosed correctly, I would have had to use this medication and possibly more of it over a greater period of time.
    As it is, I'm completely fit and healthy now.

    Would you happen to know whether I would be point blank refused for aircrew based on my history or would I be accepted (obviously provided I got through testing!) and then further investigation would have to take place..?

  6. Hi Michael

    Interesting thread - I'm in the same situation, except I was for when I was given and inhaler, but after telling the CAAMB doctor everything, he has requested my med history from my GP to assess my situ further...

    Any chance you can tell me more about your future meets with various medical peeps to tell me how things go and what they say!

    I'll post my findings in this thread if I find out before you to let you know what your in for!

    Fingers crossed for us both!

    P.S interesting what was said about low peak flow readings - mine was average, but whats the best way to improve this? Swimming? Running? Holding Breath??? I do the middle one mostly but I would like to try any suggestions. Ta!
  7. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    I'm afraid we seem to be going around in circles with regard asthma, the Medical Officer is the only person qualified to offer advice, anyone else's anecdotal experience is not admissable.

    As previously stated & written on the guidance notes of your application to join the Armed Forces you categorically need to be 4 years free from Asthma, asthma wheeze or the treatment (medication) for those symptoms. There are no exceptions.

    With regard what is acceptable for Aircrew after this period has elapsed you would be well advised to PM
    "DancesWithJPA" for a first-hand bit of professional advice in this particular field.
  8. What happens if you develop asthma whilst serving?
  9. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    You get a medical board of survey to determine whether you can continue to serve or whether you will be medically discharged.

    If it transpires you have had a previous history of asthma & didn't disclose it you can be prosecuted for fraudulent application & will be dismissed.
  10. Depends on your branch.

    Some branches are liable for an annual medical which determines their fitness for core employment, and depending on how experienced one is then other opportunities are available.

    There are various medical categories, some of which have constraints on how one can be employed. Since there is no shortage of candidates the service can afford to insist that new entries are fully employable in branch, recognising that bodies age and medical issues emerge over time which limit employment.
  11. Whilst in no way countermanding what Ninj and others have advised (esp. re;anecdotal evidence) I did know someone this happened to. He joined at 16, and later as a flying maintainer had aircrew medicals (which showed he did not have asthma on entry). In his late 20's he developed problems later diagnosed as asthma, had medical boards etc and was still able to keep flying and draftable as an SMR for ships flights, although this was down to him wanting to stay and the doctors working with him. If he failed enough boards and wasnt in a needed trade he might have been SNLR or discharged somehow without the med boards having to admit something might have caused him to develop his condition. If his asthma was bad enough and couldnt be managed with just ventolin, diet and a good vacuum cleaner it probably would have been a medcat leading to discharge also.

    In short, Ninj's advice is top notch as ever, and if it does turn out you're not eligible for aircrew then theres plenty else you can still do. Best of luck with it.
  12. I'm not going in as aircrew, just an engineer.

    Really just curious as my family has a record of asthma - well, my brother had it at a young age, father was diagnosed at 50.

    I recently passed my medical with no problems but with that background it could be that I get diagnosed at a later date.

    On the other hand, I haven't lied about anything on my application and it is to the best of my knowledge that I have had no previous medical conditions other than broken bones.

    I did find that if I stop running for a certain amount of time (a month in my case) that I was slightly wheezy. I put it down to being unconditioned and my smoking was causing it.

    As of tomorrow I will quit smoking and keep my fitness up as I have never encountered that before and it was quiet worrying that I was wheezy after exercise.

    But, as I say, I passed the medical with no problems and I have read that asthma is quiet an easy one to diagnose due to generally these symptoms: Wheezing during normal breathing, low lung capacity, caughing when taking a deep breath and croakyness caused by mucas on the lungs when listening to breathing whilst using a stethoscope.

    None of which I have.


  13. I understood that part, the example I was using was to illustrate a case where due to the exacting nature of an aircrew medical they knew that the individual concerned developed asthma after joining. He was also "just" an engineer. Anyway, as an ET or EO you may find you end up doing all kinds of stuff, like flying maintainer (vibro, CTF/MTF), dunker training etc. You might want to be a rec diver with all the jollies available! All of which require more medicals.

    Good stuff, stick with it. :thumright: You'll save a lot of money and your lungs will thank you in later life.
  14. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Anyone who has developed asthma actually in service, cannot be passed fit to undergo Wet STASS training (BR1750A, Article 0718, para 'c'- in case you wondered!) in the Underwater Escape Training Unit (Dunker) & is therefore subject to the restrictions that this would place on their flying capability be it aircrew or ground crew.

    Giving up smoking is definitely a good plan Ben, particularly with your family's previous history. Good luck, it's worth the effort.
  15. Ninj, thanks for the update, as you can imagine my oppo pre-dated STASS, as did I, and when it came in it was only mandated for front seaters initially, until it was used in anger, then they added all the dopes on the ropes, and I suppose if you are the rating in MTP cell or a SMR/M1 who needs to do vibros/CTF it would be a good idea, I wouldn't fancy doing max con/auto rotation without it. Those of us with a bubblehead fetish got the quick acquaint and the occasional rebrief from the SE section. Last I can remember, non dunker ratings and SMACs etc could not fly over the sea at night (feet dry only when IFR I think). Of course someone far more current will pop into the thread and put me right I s'pose :thumright:
  16. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Ooh, heck, reaching overload on acronyms again!

    Got the gist tho', & interpret it the same as you do. (Amazingly, as a stoker, having done the Dunker- minus the 'orrible STASS bit! Ex-FOSTIE, not a Trapper, tho')

    Doubtless someone will correct me, but concur night flying would be out. (Bummer, eh?)
  17. "D'yer hear there, steering gear failure, I am about to veer off topic."

    Sorry about the BS overload ninj, its probably all different, new and punchier acronyms these days anyway, thats more for the woos that will doubtless shoot this full of holes, as you point out, for every set of rules theres always some bugger that had a mate wot got a special exception from FONA for a one flight only chit etc etc.
    always made me laugh when BOST/COST or something would end on a Thurs after sundown and all the Chiefs or grunters that put the bite on the Flobs or Pilot for a ride home were declined, watching you Fosties depart either by seaboat or winchex to a 772 cab (or sometimes even Lynx taxi), as the flight saddle up for early weekenders and a Thurs night pash (or down to the Wheel)

    Besides, my favourite was always the Campaign to Undermine Naval Terminology......or the Special High Intensity Training version of the manual...... :slow:
  18. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Meanwhile, continuing off thread.....

    As a FOSTie I think one of my more memorable hi-line transfers was from a Sea-King thingy onto the flight deck of a T42 off Crete. Some feeble excuse was uttered for the winch-down being necessary.

    For some spooky reason the descent was eye-wateringly fast, to the point I was expecting a couple of broken ankles. Then, as if by magic, the winch stopped abruptly about 4 feet off the deck and the strop "bit-in" rather harshly giving the sensation that both of my nipples had in fact touched in the middle of my chest.

    As I disentangled myself out of the strop, blinking back the tears, I was enthusiastically greeted by a very friendly flight-deck reception party with huge grins.

    The boat transfers by Pacific Seaboat ship to ship were no better as the seaboat cox'n would always appear to have a maniacal fixed grin as he actually appeared to be steering towards the biggest visible goffer at breathtaking speed, slamming the boat off the wave-tops. Quite often I used to put my hand on top of my head to see how much of my spine was protruding through my skull. Often when you got onto the ship you could see the seaboat cox'n, out of the corner of your eye, being helped back into his straitjacket as he lurched away, slobbering toward his cage.

    Happy days, eh?
  19. :clap: cracking dits fella!! I always remember the look on a FOST WO's face when he was jumping from Pacific to QD ladder on the arse end of a T42, big swell as the seaboat mashed him against the top of the ladder, breaking his arm, the look in his eyes as he fell backwards, I grabbed him by the lifejacket/throat and hoisted him aboard collapsing on top of me. The swimmer of the watch almost put his book down! Said WO had an easy day of it with a lad assigned to lug his clipboard and coffee and we flew him off straight to Haslar, in the days when we had a hospital....
    "D'yer hear there, away seaboat, cattleprod team close up to for'ad paint locker, unshackle the buffer and mind out, he throws shit...."

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