About this Research Topic
Aviation plays vital roles in commerce, defense, science, and leisure travel. Irrespective of the purpose of the flight, crew and passengers are exposed to a variety of environmental conditions that can differ widely from work and travel on the surface of the Earth. Novel changes in the aerospace industry have brought new challenges to safeguarding the health of crew and passengers with additional exposure to the space environment. Civilian spaceflights by Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX highlight the direction of the space industry towards commercialization of space, with future space travel being dominated by average civilians to include people with underlying health conditions and disabilities.
The aviation industry is expected to soon return to pre-COVID era levels where over 4 billion passengers fly annually. Aviation is safe for most travelers, however older flyers, people with the preexisting disease, and other vulnerable passengers (such as young children and pregnant women) may be at risk of complications, and crew may be at special risk due to cumulative flight-related exposures over a career. Health concerns include but are not limited to: circadian rhythm disruption, low-level cosmic ionizing radiation, reduced oxygen delivery, and tissue hypoxia, cabin air contamination by engine gases, toxic materials used in uniforms and aircraft cabin components, occupational noise and vibration, pesticides used for cabin disinfection, inadequate crew rest, cardiovascular demands and effects of flight-related dehydration, lack of traveler health screening protocols, effects of alcohol use in-flight, psychological stress associated with air travel, effects of long-haul flights on thromboembolic events and smoking cessation efforts, job-related stress and harassment among crew. On-board medical emergencies run a wide gamut and the capacity to respond becomes more problematic as the duration of flights increases or in the case of travel over oceans and the poles. Medical events related to flight may present in the days following exposure, and therefore we encourage manuscripts that address in-flight medical response as well as events in the post-flight period. In addition, aviation as a vector for the carriage of disease is a significant concern to public health as demonstrated in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic outbreak, and we welcome submissions regarding infectious disease epidemiology and medicine as it relates to air travel.
There exist many identified concerns of space travel with unknown impacts on the average traveler's health including but not limited to: space motion sickness, space-related psychological effects, acceleration forces and microgravity, cardiovascular responses and fluid shifts, bone and muscle loss, and spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome. These exposures are in addition to general aviation-related factors discussed previously that space travelers will also encounter. Future anticipated flights including suborbital, orbital, and lunar travel and habitation raise a host of new questions regarding the health and safety of crew and passengers. What will be the occupational requirements for crew? What will be the accommodations and functional requirements for passengers? Who will be allowed to travel? Perhaps the most interesting question is - who will make the rules?
In this Research Topic, we welcome contributions from those whose work and interests are relevant to the health and safety of aerospace crew and passengers. This includes but is not limited to health and safety professionals, FAA examiners, corporate medical officers, aerospace and occupational physicians, physiologists, military and scientific team members, public health professionals, as well as engineers who are tasked with crew and passenger design projects. All submissions should be framed within the standards of high-level academic rigor. Hypotheses should be testable. We welcome the submission of research studies, reviews, opinion pieces, and book reviews that are relevant to this topic.
Topic editor Philip Parks founded and is employed by H21. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject.
Keywords: aerospace medicine, flight environment exposures, medical emergencies in flight, aviation health and safety, human factors, circadian rhythm disruption, cosmic ionizing radiation, space travel
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.