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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2006 Nov;77(11):1188-92.

The role of aeronautical adaptability in the disqualification of a military flyer.

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U.S. Army Aeromedical Center, Fort Rucker, AL 36362, USA.



Possessing a stable personality plays a critical role in crew coordination, mission completion, and safety of flight in aviation. Presented is a naval flight officer whose personality traits were a threat to these key tenets and ultimately warranted removal from flight status.


A naval flight officer was twice referred to Human Factors Boards (HFBs) after concerns were raised about her emotional stability in and out of the cockpit. Her history revealed multiple clinical presentations revealing personality characteristics that should have raised immediate concern about her aeronautical adaptability. Formal psychiatric evaluation after her second HFB confirmed the presence of personality traits incompatible with aviation duty, but not until she had served nearly 4 yrs. as an aviation officer.


Aeronautical adaptability is a U.S. Naval term used to describe an individual's ability to work successfully in the aviation environment. Naval aviation personnel are considered not aeronautically adaptable/adapted if diagnosed with a "personality disorder or prominent personality traits that adversely affect flight safety, mission completion, or crew coordination". The Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Army endorse similar concepts. Except for the U.S. Navy definition, aeronautical adaptability does not include formal DSM-IV-TR diagnoses, and, thus, flight surgeons and aviation medical examiners often make difficult aeromedical dispositions based on vague and subjective criteria.


Determining aeronautical adaptability is not a simple, solitary process. It requires heightened suspicion, continual surveillance of suspect aviators, and collaboration from aviation medical professionals to ensure aviation safety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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