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Wed, Nov 16, 2022

USAF Issues Guidance for Flights During Pregnancy

Aircrew Voluntary Acceptance of Risk Process Gives Guidance and Framework for Aircrew Willing to Fly

The Air Force has developed a handful of products and policies to help aviators navigate their work throughout their pregnancies.

The DAF issued an April 2022 clarification of previous policies pertaining to pregnant aircrew, getting the ball rolling in a system-wide effort to develop an easy risk-assessment tool to help go/no-go decision making on the ground. The resulting Aircrew Voluntary Acceptance of Risk (AVAR) is a 3-part document designed to ensure that crews have tools that will allow them to make the most informed decisions about whether to continue flying during their pregnancy. The document includes a risk acknowledgment page, outline of medical risks, and acceptable flight profiles included, with online FAQs and additional info through the Air Force Medical Services Reproductive Health page. 

"At the end of the day, we need to balance operational readiness, safety, and our aircrew’s agency, and I'm proud of the progress we've made to that end," said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones.

Aircrew wanting to remain considered for crewed flight duty must personally request to continue flying during their pregnancy, with the AVAR acting as a guide for discussions with healthcare providers in assessing the known, potential, and unmeasured risks inherent to continuing flight status. To return to flying duties, staff must submit a waiver for review by their flight surgeon, obstetrical care provider, and commander, who must all collaborate to determine whether to approve the waiver. All flights are required to meet approved flight profiles based on the commander's discretion and safety considerations. 

Whether or not the decision is made to continue flight during pregnancy will "have no impact on their military career", according to the Department of the Air Force leadership. Those who elect not to fly have other options to continue career progression, such as maintaining currencies in the simulator, instructing academics, supervisor of flying, top-3, and many other training opportunities and duties.

"It was a team effort to develop these options for pregnant aircrew so they can continue carrying out the missions they are trained and ready to perform," said Air Force Chief of Staff CQ Brown, Jr. The Department will continue to review policy and practices, as well as collection of ongoing health and safety data to apply where necessary. 

FMI: www.af.mil, Reproductive Health

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