Needing to use the restroom is a common human experience to which we can all relate. Holding your urine for long periods of time isn’t comfortable, and while we all do it now and then, finding relief sooner rather than later is always the best option. If you’re a female Air Force Pilot, this can often be a problem. Longer flights can provide difficult conditions for female aviators who have had to traditionally rely on less-than-ideal solutions. Now, Airus by Airion Health is aiming to provide a system to allow safe relief and more comfortable conditions for those focusing on maintaining sky superiority for the United States.
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Airus by Airion Health is a Welcome New Urination System
An in-flight bladder relief solution is being tested by female Air Force Pilots at Seymour Johnson AFB in North Carolina. The goal of Airus from Airion Health is to deliver an easier way for female pilots to urinate during long flights.
This would present a much better option than female Airmen are currently dealing with. They’ve put up with increasingly dangerous and embarrassing options for years, everything from simply holding it, to facing unsafe conditions while operating a complex apparatus, to dehydration, and even diapers have been the standard until now.
Below is an explainer video from the USAF for one of their urinary relief devices that female pilots use. This one is called a “piddle pack.” At least nine fatal crashes have been blamed on pilots fumbling with a piddle pack in flight.
Implementing the new Airus by Airion Health system, which involves a cup liner docked under a pilot’s underwear to their body, is a better, modern option. The pump system pulls liquid away so that there’s no need to remove one’s harness, making it a safer option for in-flight operation.
Of course, solutions for this problem have worked before, but they were aimed at assisting biological males only. The Airus project has had female experts involved as a part of the process from the beginning and the U.S. Air Force is now testing the solution after it began looking into the problem back in 2020.
Recently, the USAF has begun to push for policies and methods that would improve service for women among the ranks. This includes improvements for pregnant women, allowing longer hairstyles, and the development of maternity flight suits, along with wrap-style dresses for pregnant Airmen.
A welcomed outcome for any endeavor is anything that creates a safer environment for a job that ironically requires pilots to put themselves in danger. But urinating shouldn’t be the dangerous part of the mission. Airus is a step forward to assist in safer working conditions and hopefully represents an end to harmful practices like tactical dehydration.
What Is Tactical Dehydration?
The technique of tactical dehydration is nothing new to aviators and is used to avoid having to urinate during long flights, particularly when a practical or safe way to relieve themselves is not available. This method involves fasting from drinking liquids for several hours before taking flight.
But while a practical solution, it’s also not safe. There are several health complications that tactical dehydration can lead to, including headaches, infections, and the weakening of bladder muscles.
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The Air Force has warned against using military tactics of dehydration, as it can come with immense safety risks. One of the notable concerns from the USAF is hindering an Airman’s ability to withstand high G-forces while in flight.
Tactical dehydration is a great way to increase headaches and generally should be a practice that is avoided in high-stakes environments. But despite this, and the various other negative impacts on the physical and cognitive functions of Airmen, the practice persists.
This is because dehydration may impair our ability to perform tasks effectively, yet many women don’t have better options. Safely operating a $143 million aircraft is important, especially when you are at extreme altitudes flying at high speeds, and executing military maneuvers.
Airus is aiming to be a viable solution to a common problem, but it begs the question of why such solutions weren’t put into place before. Safely relieving yourself is a basic human need. Furthermore, it’s less than dignifying and frankly lazy to not have a solution for female Airmen who resort to other, harmful means of dealing with the problem.
Airus is a Necessary Solution to a Problem That Should’ve Been Solved Years Ago
There’s a reason why flying makes you feel so dehydrated. Because airplanes are controlled environments maintaining lower humidity levels of only 10-20%, compared to the 35-65% humidity levels found in everyday environments. In the air, dehydration is a real concern.
The reduced humidity in aircraft can cause dehydration to occur more rapidly. While this can be a health issue that makes someone 100 times more likely to catch a cold on commercial airlines, the health concerns of U.S. Air Force pilots are a bit different.
Maintaining proper hydration is important for any pilot, regardless of biology, so that they might operate their aircraft safely. When you throw in the additional expectations and skills needed to conduct military operations, it’s clear to see that a major change for female Air Force Pilots is necessary, even if far too late.
Ultimately, the solution of Airus from Airion Health can make the skies more secure for our nation and a safer, more comfortable place for female Air Force pilots. It’s just a shame this wasn’t done much sooner.
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