grimey
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Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:20 am

The BBC has recently put up an article stating that shift work is linked to increased risk of heart problems, this got me thinking that pilots and flight attendants do lot of shift work but their working hours are irregular due to flying over different time zones which in effect causes jet lag and might interrupt their sleeping patterns for a couple of days afterwards.

We all know that a few crashes have happened over the years due to the flight crew being jet lagged or exhausted but what I'm wondering is the career choice of a pilot one that effects health in a major way, any pilots out there feel that after 20-30 years of flying that they are now suffering from bad health or heart attacks.

Breathing in re-circulated air and eating airline food or fast food at airports on a constant basis is not good for anyone but anyone can experience these conditions working long hours in an office in a city. Although on the other hand I'm wondering if the life of a pilot can be just as healthy as any other career as you can get a number of days off between flights, you can only fly 900 hours a year so there should be some amount of time you can spend by yourself and maybe starting earlier in the morning avoids traffic jams therefore bringing on less stress.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18996082
 
26point2
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:08 am

I am a pilot. 48 years old...35 years of it flying, so I think I'm qualified to answer?

First...don't believe the BBC or FOX news. Believe your peers...some of them at least.

One thing I'm sure of...irregardless of one's choice of career it really amounts to one's choice of lifestyle that makes the difference.

Pilots spend a lot of down time at work, corporate pilots even more, and one has to find a positive way to spend that time. Room service meals and Internet porn is fun in moderation but we should all have our healthy habits too.

I spend my downtime running or riding the bike I carry in the GLEX engine room. Every day a new adventure. Tomorrow's plan: 120 miles on the bicycle on a Pacific island.....and I'm at work.

Not all Americans are obese....or lazy.

26.2

[Edited 2012-07-28 23:20:07]
 
boeing773er
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:27 am

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 1):
48 years old...35 years of it flying

I don't want to take this the wrong way, but have you been a pilot for 35 years or have you generally been flying for 35 years? Because if you have been a pilot for 35 years, and you are 48 years old you must of started when you were 13?

But, in other regards, of course they have found another thing that is "bad for your health"

The media/hospitals/research faculties find everything you do in the modern world "bad for your health." Soon doing anything besides sleeping and eating all organic food is going to be "bad for your health"

I can imagine being a pilot is as bad as any 9-5 desk job, you are breathing the air of other people, you may eat out everyday for lunch, and just sitting around in a chair for most of your day.
Work Hard, Fly Right.
 
26point2
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:37 am

Yes. I started flying at 13 years old. PPL not 'til 17 though. ATP at 26, etc. It's really not relevant to the topic though.
 
MEA-707
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:55 am

I read that almost all female Concorde pilots died of cancer, there might be a link between UV radiation risk in higher altitudes and breast cancer.
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
 
Bellerophon
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:47 am

MEA-707

Quote:
...I read that almost all female Concorde pilots died of cancer...

I hope you didn't believe it!

To the best of my knowledge, one half of all the female pilots ever licensed on Concorde is still alive and well - very sadly the other half passed away last year.

Best Regards

Bellerophon
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:48 pm

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 1):
One thing I'm sure of...irregardless of one's choice of career it really amounts to one's choice of lifestyle that makes the difference.

Pilots spend a lot of down time at work, corporate pilots even more, and one has to find a positive way to spend that time. Room service meals and Internet porn is fun in moderation but we should all have our healthy habits too.

I spend my downtime running or riding the bike I carry in the GLEX engine room. Every day a new adventure. Tomorrow's plan: 120 miles on the bicycle on a Pacific island.....and I'm at work.

Not all Americans are obese....or lazy.

I think this says it all.

Most professions have bad aspects. My wife routinely works 12-15 hours a day, sometimes 18-20. Bad for you, perhaps, but that is what she chooses to do. She goes into it with an open mind. Few pilots are forced to become pilots. Long haul pilots may have screwed up circadian rhythms but would they rather be working 8-6 flying a desk? I doubt it.

As 26point2 says, you can be healthy or unhealthy. The one thing you cannot do is blame your chosen profession for your resultant lifestyle. That choice is yours. I know a few pilots. Some need to exercise. Others are in great shape. Like in any other job.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
LH707330
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:50 pm

Quoting Bellerophon (Reply 5):
To the best of my knowledge, one half of all the female pilots ever licensed on Concorde is still alive and well - very sadly the other half passed away last year.

What's the total count?
 
CosmicCruiser
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:34 pm

26point2 is correct about how you choose to live your life and I'm right there with him. I'm fast approaching the end with 30 yrs at one airline and 12 more commercial years before that and can say I try to eat right and get lots of exercise and so far have had no job related problems short of a couple of food related issues, stomach viruses and one car wreck going to the airport. However I will qualify that with the observation that a constant dose of int'l flying 12-15 days a month does stress your body with constant disruption to all the body systems and I do believe it may have some affect over the years. Of course sitting in an office 8-5 daily adds a lot of stress in other ways as well. I'll take the flying job.
 
bond007
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:33 pm

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 8):
Of course sitting in an office 8-5 daily adds a lot of stress in other ways as well.

Also, there are lot of folks working 10, 12, 16 hours in the office, every day including weekends. They don't have the 'luxury' of downtime, although in most cases it's also their choice, as mentioned.

Now, statistically (fatality rate per 100,000 workers), overall, being a pilot is one of the '10 most dangerous jobs' in the USA. Presumably this because it also includes Part 91 and Part 135 ops, but the numbers are still very small, and is attributed to crashes.

Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 4):
I read that almost all female Concorde pilots died of cance
Quoting Bellerophon (Reply 5):
To the best of my knowledge, one half of all the female pilots ever licensed on Concorde is still alive and well - very sadly the other half passed away last year.

Yes, so you could argue that 'almost all' was a valid statement ... all but one  

Bear in mind anybody's chance of dying of cancer is around 1 in 3.

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
 
rcair1
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:40 pm

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 7):
What's the total count?

2. 1 BA, 1 AF
rcair1
 
trav110
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:33 pm

Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 4):
there might be a link between UV radiation risk in higher altitudes and breast cancer.

'
Humans do experience an increase in exposure to cosmic radiation at altitude due to less atmosphere above available to shield us from these rays, which does increase cancer risk when compared to someone working on the ground.
 
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Francoflier
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:11 pm

There's the radiation exposure, but in truth that's probably the lesser inconvenience. The doses are not that great and there's still evidence or measure of their real effect on health.

If any, the killer would be the disheveled hours and wake/sleep patterns. Those have recently been under scrutiny by medical research for their effects on the immune system and general health. Long haul / freighter crews would be more affected than those who don't fly at night or have regular patterns.

It's just one of these profession where one has to keep a healthy lifestyle on the side, especially since it all relies on a very picky doctor's decision every year or less.
I'll do my own airline. With Blackjack. And hookers. In fact, forget the airline.
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:07 pm

Quoting boeing773ER (Reply 2):
I don't want to take this the wrong way, but have you been a pilot for 35 years or have you generally been flying for 35 years? Because if you have been a pilot for 35 years, and you are 48 years old you must of started when you were 13?

I know a lot of pilots who's parents were pilots and/or flight instructors. They began their flight training as soon as they could see out the windshield. It's not really all that surprising. A good friend of mine is an airline captain and has 2 boys and a Cessna 180. The oldest boy is 10 and he sits up front nearly every time they fly somewhere. That 10 year old probably has more time flying then I do.

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 1):
I spend my downtime running or riding the bike I carry in the ç engine room. Every day a new adventure. Tomorrow's plan: 120 miles on the bicycle on a Pacific island.....and I'm at work.

Do you use a Dahon folding bike? I remember seeing several people fly in to the FBO I used to work at who would unfold a bike and go for a ride when they'd overnight at our airport. Folding bikes are nearly as advanced now as carbon fibre road bikes.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 6):
As 26point2 says, you can be healthy or unhealthy. The one thing you cannot do is blame your chosen profession for your resultant lifestyle. That choice is yours. I know a few pilots. Some need to exercise. Others are in great shape. Like in any other job.

This is true. You can either choose to use your downtime to exercise on a layover by lifting a pint at the bar or going to the hotel gym and run on a treadmill. My friend mentioned above uses his to find a Crossfit gym at his layover location and workout.

Quoting francoflier (Reply 12):
If any, the killer would be the disheveled hours and wake/sleep patterns.

And, there are many professions that have this problem. My wife's a nurse that works the night shift it's not uncommon for them to have medical conditions that arise because of their schedule.
The beatings will continue until morale improves
 
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Francoflier
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:01 pm

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 13):
there are many professions that have this problem.

I never said pilots were the only ones to suffer from this. There are many harsh jobs that take a high toll on the system. It's just one of them.
I'll do my own airline. With Blackjack. And hookers. In fact, forget the airline.
 
26point2
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:50 am

@cannoecarrier.

I don't use a folding bike but understand they are a great product. I travel with a full frame Trek Madone road bike and break it down as much as I can. Frame and wheels go into soft bags and all fits well into the plane.

The GLEX has much room for stufff and I'm fortunate to be able to travel with my bike. In the "old days" I spent my flying downtime either running, hiking or using the hotel gym every day. Again, it's a lifestyle choice.
 
pilotpip
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:43 pm

Like anything else, it's about lifestyle choices. A fat pilot would be a fat accountant. An accountant, however, doesn't need a first class medical. In almost every crash in recent years, including all of them in the US, fatigue has been a major, if not sole role in the crash.

I do think that the job encourages unhealthy choices. We are often in a world of extremes. We sit around airports for hours but then there are days where we might only have 30 minutes to do grab food, use the bathroom etc in between flights. In the first 3 years I did the airline thing, I put on almost 30 pounds to go along with the 30 I put on while working 3 jobs trying to pay my bills as a flight instructor. 5' 7" and 240 pounds is no way to live. I knew it but when my AME smacked me around a little for my decling health and poor numbers for being only in my late 20s, I knew it was time for a change.

I've always been an avid cyclist but we airline pilot aren't as lucky as the corporate world. I can't fit a bike, folding or conventional, into my luggage. I can, however, fit running shoes and shorts in there. Running has become a cornerstone for me. Anything over 12 hours and I get outside for at least an hour run. It's a great way to explore the area and find some neat things you won't see sitting in the hotel. I'll use the treadmill, but only as a last resort. I now have clothing that keeps me comfortable down to about the freezing point so I can run outside as much as possible.

Next up, airport food SUCKS. It's tough to find healthy options in the airport. The solution: bring your own. I bring lots of healthy snacks along on the road and will munch on them throughout the day. Dinners have gone from burgers and fries to a salad and a healthier entre. 3-4 12oz Cokes per day has been replaced by 1 cup of coffee.

The results: In 2 years, I've lost 60 pounds. I'm in better shape at 30 than I was at 20. When I get home after a rough trip I don't have to spend a day recovering, in fact this morning I my bike 40 miles and this is the first break I've taken from the honey-do list. I used to have lots of trouble sleeping, blaming it on the constant changes in circadian rythm. Now, I can get to sleep quickly and wake up feeling refreshed regardless of having an 18 hour overnight, or an 8 hour one.

It's been a long process but worthwhile. I will have that burger and fries once in a while but my body immediately lets me know it's not happy when it happens too often. I save money by bringing more food, and spending less time eating/drinking junk at the restaurant/bar at the hotel. This career field does your body no favors. You owe it to yourself to not give in.
DMI
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:13 pm

I'm a physician (albeit a pediatrician), but I can think of a few risk factors that piloting would carry. I wouldn't call it "unhealthy," or "bad for you," because it also depends on what is done to ameliorate those risks.

The major risks I see:

1) Increased radiation exposure at high altitude. A single US Transcon airline flight exposes the people in the aircraft to about as much additional cosmic radiation as would be experienced by someone moving from San Francisco to Denver for one year, IIRC. But pilots will make many, many flights in their lifetime. There is not very much that can be done (practically) to ameliorate this risk.

2) Sleep cycle disturbance/melatonin secretion issues. Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland at night time. Secretion is stimulated by darkness and can be inhibited by even relatively brief exposure to light. Shift workers tend to have decreased overall melatonin exposure and secretion. There are some studies that link a lack of melatonin to certain cancers. This can be partially ameliorated by good sleep habits and taking melatonin supplements.

3) Practical difficulties with maintaining healthy diet and exercise habits. The constantly shifting schedule, long work days, fatigue, and time spent living in hotels and eating in restaurants makes it difficult to make consistently healthy choices. Many pilots do make a point of making the healthiest choices possible to ameliorate this risk factor. However, men (and pilots are usually men) are notoriously bad at caring for their health and watching their weight.

4) Emotional/relationship stress. The large amounts of time spent away from home put strain on interpersonal (spousal) and family relationships. This is stressful, and stress itself is a risk factor for many illnesses. Again, personal coping mechanisms may help to ameliorate these issues.

So those are the issues that come to mind. There are things that can be done to ameliorate all of them except, of course, (1).
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:42 pm

And that's still somewhat debatable. I've been told that you will get more exposure lying out by the pool on your layover than you will on the flight, polar flts excluded. You're also exposed to Radon from the ground 24/7/365 which is the largest exposure percentage. From what I see eating at "off times" to your body clock and then trying to sleep thus inviting reflux is a big issue as well as lowering of your immune systems power from constant fatigue. You get home with a week off and you do it again. It's accumulative.
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:18 pm

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 15):
I don't use a folding bike but understand they are a great product. I travel with a full frame Trek Madone road bike and break it down as much as I can. Frame and wheels go into soft bags and all fits well into the plane.

Good for you. In the 7 years I worked at an FBO I never ran into a corporate pilot that did what you're doing. They may have worked out in other ways at the hotel on an overnight, but we had a shower for pilots and a room to stow their stuff if they wanted too. Even on an 8 hour layover you can do more than just sitting around the crew lounge watching Ellen.

As you well know, you can spend most of the day sitting around waiting for the owner to come back from his meeting or you can use that time to find a way to work out. It's not that different than any other office job when it comes to the down time. I work with people now that go to the gym over their lunch break.

Quoting pilotpip (Reply 16):
I've always been an avid cyclist but we airline pilot aren't as lucky as the corporate world. I can't fit a bike, folding or conventional, into my luggage. I can, however, fit running shoes and shorts in there. Running has become a cornerstone for me. Anything over 12 hours and I get outside for at least an hour run. It's a great way to explore the area and find some neat things you won't see sitting in the hotel. I'll use the treadmill, but only as a last resort. I now have clothing that keeps me comfortable down to about the freezing point so I can run outside as much as possible.

If you like to run or cycle after a little while you get used to doing either in the rain or snow. Definitely a lifestyle choice but if I didn't mind the rain, I'd never get on the bike here in Seattle.

Quoting pilotpip (Reply 16):
Next up, airport food SUCKS. It's tough to find healthy options in the airport. The solution: bring your own.

I've known airline pilots that bring their own crew meals and look up places around the crew hotel to eat better food or work out at a Cross-fit gym or lift. But, they are in the minority.
The beatings will continue until morale improves
 
CX Flyboy
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:28 am

I agree with Pilotpip in that a lot of it has to do with lifestyle choices. Being a pilot does not automatically mean that you have to be unhealthy. I do however think that often leading a healthier lifestyle as a pilot does require extra effort over so many other professions and many do not do it.

Having said that, I think that we are going to see a first generation of pilots who spend 40 years of their careers flying purely longhaul, doing 14+hr flights several times a month over the North Pole, where radiation is recognised as being higher. I am of course referring mainly to the operations in my own airline but there would be many other similar examples. New pilots joining are often in their early 20s and assuming a retirement age of 65, I strongly suspect that 40 years of habitual jetlag and exposure to radiation and breathing aircraft fumes is not going to be good for their health.

I think that data coming out in the next 10-15 years will be interesting to see, the saving grace might only be that awareness of health and healthy lifestyle choices are much more prevalent in this day and age than they have ever been.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:34 am

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 20):
I do however think that often leading a healthier lifestyle as a pilot does require extra effort over so many other professions and many do not do it.

Agreed. However being a pilot has this in common with most other professions with irregular and long hours. Many executives who work in an office have the same scheduling issues with exercise, and often a lot of fatigue.

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 20):
I think that data coming out in the next 10-15 years will be interesting to see, the saving grace might only be that awareness of health and healthy lifestyle choices are much more prevalent in this day and age than they have ever been.

Absolutely. The difference in awareness today compared to a couple of generations ago is astounding.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
26point2
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:00 am

Pilotpip is right....start a healthy habit and it turns into a healthy lifestyle.

I ran high school track but spent my college years drinking beer and gaining weight. Then became a pilot and drank even more beer and gained more weight.... dinners out followed by many more beers = not good.

Changed it all at mid-20s and started to "jog" then soon run again.

NYC Marathon this November will be my 20th marathon in 20 years...most of the training done while on the road at work. At 48 years old I am now in transition from long runs to long bike rides.

Managing a healthy life while living at the Marriott, or wherever, can be done.

26.2

[Edited 2012-07-30 22:07:33]

[Edited 2012-07-30 22:19:03]
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:19 am

Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 18):
And that's still somewhat debatable. I've been told that you will get more exposure lying out by the pool on your layover than you will on the flight, polar flts excluded.

Cosmic rays vs. UV rays. Different sorts of DNA damage. UV tends to cause DNA base pairs to fuse together requiring excision and repair, but because it's usually single-strand damage, repair is easy. Cosmic rays track through a cell leaving a narrow and highly concentrated track of free radicals, which lead to double-strand DNA breaks. These are much more complex to repair and invariably result in loss of some DNA sequence. If this were to occur in the coding portion of, say, a tumor-supressor gene...
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CX Flyboy
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:18 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 21):
Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 20):
I do however think that often leading a healthier lifestyle as a pilot does require extra effort over so many other professions and many do not do it.

Agreed. However being a pilot has this in common with most other professions with irregular and long hours. Many executives who work in an office have the same scheduling issues with exercise, and often a lot of fatigue.

Yes agreed fatigue, shift work and long hours are common in a fair few industries but few are also exposed to radiation levels that pilots are as well. There is more evidence to suggest that the levels of toxins in cabin air even on the more modern aircraft are hazardous to health, something an office executive isn't exposed to. Sitting in the cockpit surrounded on all fours by electronic equipment, wires and high voltage voltage, all emitting its own radiation levels is going to have some effect too.
 
grimey
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:59 am

Thanks for all the replies lads. I work as a project manager in a construction company and its really no different lifestyle compared to a pilot, I am saving up at the moment in order to bring my PPL to an ATPL someday. I work in an office at a computer for some 7-10 (maybe up to 12) hours a day, my lunch break is anything from 30-45 minutes although I always make sure I don't eat at my desk so that I can get away from work. I try to eat healthy, have a breakfast every morning, a good meal when I get home from work and I'm trying to exercise as much as I can.

I know by choosing to be a commercial pilot over the next couple of years is going to affect my life but its something that I really want to do. I have been told in the past that being a pilot is a stressful job but I have been left in stressful positions before in my own job when I would have to think about construction programmes and budgets so I see it as no matter where someone works they are always going to have a downside to their health and lifestyle, its how you control it that matters.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:59 am

Quoting grimey (Reply 25):
I know by choosing to be a commercial pilot over the next couple of years is going to affect my life but its something that I really want to do. I have been told in the past that being a pilot is a stressful job but I have been left in stressful positions before in my own job when I would have to think about construction programmes and budgets so I see it as no matter where someone works they are always going to have a downside to their health and lifestyle, its how you control it that matters.

This is the crux I think. Yes there are lifestyle and health risks to becoming a pilot. But it beats an office all day. And you get to sit at the pointy end. 
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:07 pm

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 20):
I think that data coming out in the next 10-15 years will be interesting to see, the saving grace might only be that awareness of health and healthy lifestyle choices are much more prevalent in this day and age than they have ever been.

Out of curiosity, has the quality of cabin air changed any since the 1980 or '90's?
The beatings will continue until morale improves
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:36 pm

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 27):
Out of curiosity, has the quality of cabin air changed any since the 1980 or '90's?

It's better now. It was always extremely clean (the whole recirculation foo fah rah is a huge red herring) but it was also very dry. The newest stuff (A380/787) holds higher pressure and humidity and has better filtration.

Tom.
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:58 pm

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 28):
It's better now. It was always extremely clean (the whole recirculation foo fah rah is a huge red herring) but it was also very dry. The newest stuff (A380/787) holds higher pressure and humidity and has better filtration.

Thanks Tom, at least they can't smoke on planes anymore. But, that was an occupational hazard for many different jobs.
The beatings will continue until morale improves
 
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rmoore7734
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:47 pm

i would say flying in the trade winds (Alasaka/West coast) from Fukushima disaster are hazardous for flight attendants & passengers as well http://www.naturalnews.com/035884_fl...ttendants_radiation_poisoning.html
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:45 am

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 24):
Yes agreed fatigue, shift work and long hours are common in a fair few industries but few are also exposed to radiation levels that pilots are as well. There is more evidence to suggest that the levels of toxins in cabin air even on the more modern aircraft are hazardous to health, something an office executive isn't exposed to. Sitting in the cockpit surrounded on all fours by electronic equipment, wires and high voltage voltage, all emitting its own radiation levels is going to have some effect too.

Really? The air in my office isn't replaced six times per hour. You're telling me that all the computers and lights and internet wireless around me isn't having a similar effect? My phone? That new carpet smell is a bunch of aromatic hydrocarbons. I'm not sure that the airplane is that much worse from that respect.

Quoting rmoore7734 (Reply 30):
i would say flying in the trade winds (Alasaka/West coast) from Fukushima disaster are hazardous for flight attendants & passengers as well

"Natural News" claiming that undetectable levels of radiation are causing illness? Remember, sensitive radiation meters all over the U.S. detected no increase in radiation. There were traces of radioisotopes detected by mass spectrometry, but there was no detectible increase in radiation. Furthermore, I have heard of NO "mystery illness" in polar bears and I'm a biologist by training, so I do follow the journals.

This website also has an article questioning whether the Batman shootings were a cover-up/conspiracy, is anti-vaccine, claims that food can "restart your sluggish thyroid," has an article stating that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery, etc.
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Starlionblue
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:47 am

Quoting rmoore7734 (Reply 30):

i would say flying in the trade winds (Alasaka/West coast) from Fukushima disaster are hazardous for flight attendants & passengers as well http://www.naturalnews.com/035884_fl....html

I would think that since the air is filtered radiation any bearing particles do not get to the occupants.

Also, that source is a bit dodgy in its conclusions. Other sources do blame the uniforms, but nothing about radiation. Of course fabric can contain "bad" ingredients. It is for example a common problem in Chinese production as they cut corners and use some very unhealthy chemicals.
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IBOAviator
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:44 am

Quoting francoflier (Reply 12):
There's the radiation exposure

Air Canada's old Vickers Viscount aircraft used to have radium in some of the flight instrumentation and there were many (not sure on exact number) cases of Air Canada pilots dying in their retirement or late pre-retirement years because of the radiation exposure they received after years and years of flying. So yes, radiation exposure in the past was a real problem.

Quoting francoflier (Reply 12):
If any, the killer would be the disheveled hours and wake/sleep patterns.

     


I have not been flying long enough to comment on this topic with absolute certainty but one thing I have found that wears on me after hours of flying is the mental exhaustion associated with flying. In the CCO (National Defence), flying operations are heavily regulated and thus the job wears on you quickly. After a hot afternoon of flying, you feel mentally drained. After weeks of doing the same thing, it does wear on you. I'm sure other people will agree, going up and doing sunday circuits/x country in shorts and a t-shirt is a heck of a lot more enjoyable/easy than "work" flying.

On the same coin, after years and years of "work" flying, one can become quite complacent and now, as a result, even more mental energy is required to always follow the checklist, the mission profile and not fall into a dangerous rut of 'loose' flying. So even though senior pilots know their mission, the new challenge is to remain villigant and avoid complacency. What I've found is this: I can fly the same mission over and over again and soon become familiar with "what to expect" and "take shortcuts" to cut down the workload and enjoy myself... BUT that only means that all the more focus and mental energy is now required now to remain professional and do the job by the book. That being said, experience does allow for a better management of this mental stress.

  

Regards.
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:26 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 32):
Also, that source is a bit dodgy in its conclusions.

A bit dodgy? They claim that radiation from artificial radioisotopes is somehow worse than natural radiation, even if the levels aren't detectably different.

A gamma ray is a gamma ray. An alpha particle is an alpha particle. It doesn't matter where it came from.
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Starlionblue
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:31 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 34):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 32):
Also, that source is a bit dodgy in its conclusions.

A bit dodgy? They claim that radiation from artificial radioisotopes is somehow worse than natural radiation, even if the levels aren't detectably different.

A gamma ray is a gamma ray. An alpha particle is an alpha particle. It doesn't matter where it came from.

British understatement old chum. I agree with you that the whole thing is completely loony. Now where is my tinfoil hat? 
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rcair1
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:37 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 31):
This website also has an article questioning whether the Batman shootings were a cover-up/conspiracy, is anti-vaccine, claims that food can "restart your sluggish thyroid," has an article stating that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery, etc.

Ya had me doubting the viability of that website till you got to the last one....

Just kidding folks....   
rcair1
 
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:06 am

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 35):
British understatement old chum. I agree with you that the whole thing is completely loony. Now where is my tinfoil hat?

Tinfoil hats cause alzheimers and are actually a government mind control plot. Just ask Naturalnews.com!  
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:05 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 31):
Really? The air in my office isn't replaced six times per hour. You're telling me that all the computers and lights and internet wireless around me isn't having a similar effect? My phone? That new carpet smell is a bunch of aromatic hydrocarbons. I'm not sure that the airplane is that much worse from that respect.

The air in your office isn't passed through a jet engine with various sources of aviation grade oils around various valves. You can google cabin air quality, or aerotoxic syndrome. It may not be a widely recognised medical syndrome yet but it has gathered pace over the last few years with several well documented cases of nausea amongst crew and passengers in some extreme cases. The topic is discussing elements of being a pilot which are bad for your health. Surely you are not trying to argue that breathing engine-air is good for you?

I never said that the effects of you in your office surrounded by electronics is not similar to pilots sitting in a cockpit....however, they are on completely different scales. The fact your cellphone signal drops from full to one bar or no signal at all once you step into the pilot's seat says it all really. There are so many electronics that even the cellphone signal can't get through. I would also imagine that your office isn't so small that you can stretch your arms and body and touch the ceiling, and all four walls so you aren't sitting that close to all the electrics. As for the new carpet, yes I agree that probably isn't good for you either...but we aren't trying to argue that on this thread. This isn't about one-upmanship. This is just about the downsides heath-wise of being a pilot. It is of course recognized that other jobs have health downsides too.
 
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:01 pm

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 38):
The air in your office isn't passed through a jet engine with various sources of aviation grade oils around various valves. You can google cabin air quality, or aerotoxic syndrome. It may not be a widely recognised medical syndrome yet but it has gathered pace over the last few years with several well documented cases of nausea amongst crew and passengers in some extreme cases. The topic is discussing elements of being a pilot which are bad for your health. Surely you are not trying to argue that breathing engine-air is good for you?

There has been quite a few documented cases in Australia where B146 pilots have been so incapacited that they couldn't continue on to their destination. There has also been litigation where pilots have sued their employers for damages on medical grounds due to engine fumes in the bleed air. The B146 is obviously a known offender but no doubt all aircraft have low levels of fumes contained in cabin bleed air.


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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:02 pm

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 38):
The air in your office isn't passed through a jet engine with various sources of aviation grade oils around various valves.

A properly maintained engine has no oil anywhere that bleed air goes. If you're getting engine fluids in your air, something is wrong with the engine.

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 38):
Surely you are not trying to argue that breathing engine-air is good for you?

In a properly maintained engine, it's far better for you than most terrestrial air. It's cleaner (aircraft fly way too high for most pollutants), sterile (it's been heated to several hundred degrees in the compressor), and changed over about as frequently as a hospital operating room (or about an order of magnitude more than your typical building environment).

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 38):
The fact your cellphone signal drops from full to one bar or no signal at all once you step into the pilot's seat says it all really. There are so many electronics that even the cellphone signal can't get through.

That has nothing to do with the electronics around you and everything to do with the fact that you just stepped into a faraday cage (the flight deck windows have a metal layer in them for heating). If you turn the entire aircraft off (i.e. no EMI at all) you still won't get a good signal.

Quoting StickShaker (Reply 39):
The B146 is obviously a known offender but no doubt all aircraft have low levels of fumes contained in cabin bleed air.

No, not all aircraft have low levels of fumes in the bleed air. If they do, there's something wrong with the system.

Tom.
 
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:48 am

Perhaps a properly maintained aircraft/engine SHOULD have clean air. The problem is that there have been plenty of documented cases of bad smells in an aircraft related to fumes of some sort, mainly on types like the BAe146 but also more recently on the 757 and of course also randomly on other aircraft as well.

I still believe that sitting surrounded by electics cannot be good for you. As usual though with this sort of thing, the companies that pay for studies are the ones who stand to lose the most so results are skewed. Living under power lines can't be bad for you right?
 
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:03 am

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 41):
The problem is that there have been plenty of documented cases of bad smells in an aircraft related to fumes of some sort, mainly on types like the BAe146 but also more recently on the 757 and of course also randomly on other aircraft as well.

Another problem is that the reports of bad smells, almost always untraceable to any maintenance action or mechanical problem, are *extremely* highly correlated to airlines with flight crew labour relations problems. That makes it incredibly difficult to get good data.

Tom.
 
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:35 am

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 42):
Another problem is that the reports of bad smells, almost always untraceable to any maintenance action or mechanical problem, are *extremely* highly correlated to airlines with flight crew labour relations problems. That makes it incredibly difficult to get good data.

Tom.

So I take it that in your opinion this Aerotoxic Syndrome is a completely made up thing?
 
StickShaker
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:41 am

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 43):
Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 42):Another problem is that the reports of bad smells, almost always untraceable to any maintenance action or mechanical problem, are *extremely* highly correlated to airlines with flight crew labour relations problems. That makes it incredibly difficult to get good data.

Tom.
So I take it that in your opinion this Aerotoxic Syndrome is a completely made up thing?

I agree that a correctly maintained (and correctly functioning) aircraft should not present any problems - issues on the B146 have been blamed on engine seals.There was much evidence regarding faulty engine seals presented during litigation/damages in Australia over health issues due to contaminated bleed air in B146 aircraft. I cant remember all the details but of the 2 major operators at the time both used a different brand of seals - I vaguely remember something about the original seals not being considered adequate. The Australian Senate held a large inquiry into the issue in support of various claimants. That so many incidents were reported on mostly one aircraft type (rather than a random selection) does seem to support the credibility of the claims.

Do a Google search using "B146 engine seal fumes in cabin" and you should get quite a bit of information.


Regards,
StickShaker
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:18 pm

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 43):
So I take it that in your opinion this Aerotoxic Syndrome is a completely made up thing?

No. My opinion is that there isn't enough good data to know it's "a thing."

There certainly are funny smells/fumes on aircraft sometimes; I'm not aware that that's in dispute. However, the degree to which those funny smells are related to design vs. maintenance vs. operating procedures, the degree to which it's over or underreported by different flight crews at different times, and the degree to which correlated (self-reported) symptoms may or may not be causative, makes it nearly impossible to determine what's actually going on.

Tom.
 
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:23 pm

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 43):
So I take it that in your opinion this Aerotoxic Syndrome is a completely made up thing?

Have there been cases in which entire aircraft full of people have become sickened by fumes in the cabin not caused by something like a fire? Yes, of course there have.

But these events are so rare that they are considered "incidents" and occur less than once or so a year on average.

One thing I have noticed is that the list of potential symptoms of "Aerotoxic Syndrome" is very long. Very few actual medical diagnoses have that many symptoms. When I see something like that, I start to think of either PTSD or some other functional disorder.

This is like "Chronic Lyme," which isn't actually a recognized diagnosis. Or "Gulf War Syndrome," which turned out to be a PTSD (although many still insist that there was some vast conspiracy).
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:31 am

I agree that there is little hard evidence there but there is something there. I believe that this new generation of long-haul pilots who are going to spend 15hrs in a plane several times a month for 40 years will be guinea pigs effectively for a whole bunch of things from radiation to long term shift work to air quality etc etc.. Only time will tell how bad each of these things are. I do not think there is any dispute that those are good factors of being a pilot though. How far up the scale of 'badness' remains to be seen.
 
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:34 am

For comparison, maybe we should approach from a different angle. I started working in aviation when I was 15. I worked at an FBO until I was 23, took a break then worked an an airline for another 3 years. I can definitely say that over that time I've lost significant hearing. I still have permanent ringing in my ears. And, I don't think I'm alone.

To be honest, I think working as a flight attendant is around an order of magnitude much more hazardous to your health than working as a pilot. I never saw a pilot clean up vomit, help put a bag in the overhead when pregnant, or separate 2 drunk people on a LAS-JFK flight.

[Edited 2012-08-02 19:37:40]
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RE: Is Working As A Pilot Bad For Your Health?

Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:40 am

Quoting CX Flyboy (Reply 47):
I believe that this new generation of long-haul pilots who are going to spend 15hrs in a plane several times a month for 40 years will be guinea pigs effectively for a whole bunch of things from radiation to long term shift work to air quality etc etc..

Wait... aircraft with a duration of at least 12 hours have been around since the early 1980's at least. Unless you think that something magical happens between 12 and 15 hours, I don't see how this is "new." And it's not like 15-hour flights are that common, anyway. Only a very small percentage of flights are that long, even when you only count transoceanic services.
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