The purposes of the present study were: (1) to investigate aeromedical dissorders prevalent among ROK air force pilots and (2) to evaluate their detrimental effects on flight performance. The study examined the eight flight-induced disorders primarily responsible for permanent grounding and flying restrictions. According to the survey of 600 randomly selected pilots, 80.2% of the respondents have experienced low back pain, which was 20% higher than the lifetime prevalence in Swedish male workers. Bradyacusia ranked second (56.0%) resulting from continuous exposure to high aircraft noise. The cardiovascular disorders, the most common cause for permanent grounding of Canadian forces pilots, were found in 16.0% of the Korean pilots. Due to the high prevalence of the disorders, in 1993 the Korean pilots received medical treatments 10 times as many as factory workdes. Compared to the flight performance of Israeli and British pilots in wars, the flight performance of the Korean pilots was found to be inferior. Such poor performance can be attributable to the high incidence rates of disorders. Statistical analyses revealed that the aeromedical disorders were related to personal variables such as age, flight career- related factors, and fatigue. Cigarette smoking and drinking habit contributed to worsening back pain, barotitis media, and pulmonary disorders. More comprehensive research was recommended to identify health hazards, combined with intervention to minimize disorders that could lead to early termination of flight careers or excessive loss of flight time. This study further suggests that aeromedical institutions in Korean air force should be fostered more professionally and financially.
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