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WAG Medical Symposium concludes at Meydan

December 5, 2015

While the top pilots from across the world have been busy entertaining the huge crowds at the 2015 FAI World Air Games (WAG) at various drop-zones in Dubai, some of the brightest minds in the health and aviation industry have been involved in ways and means of developing the sport. 

More than 100 delegates, mainly world-leading health and aviation experts from across the world had been attending the three-day international symposium on air sport medicine that was hosted by the Meydan Hotel till Saturday, December 5.

Multiple world record holder Dr Klaus Ohlmann was the highlight of the closing day of the ‘International Symposium on Air Sport Medicine’ that was held on the sidelines of the 2015 FAI World Air Games (WAG), on Saturday (December 5).

The German glider pilot, who has till date established a total of 36 world records approved by the FAI, had the total attention of the audience at the symposium as he narrated his experiences while setting his record-breaking feats.

Among his feats is the record for a free distance flight with up to three turn-points by flying 3,009 kms from Capelco Airport in San Martin de los Andes in Argentina along with co-pilot Karl Rabeder in January 2003. He also broke Hans-Werner Grosse’s free distance record – that had existed for more than 30 years – by making a flight of 2,247.6 kms, also in January 2003.

In February last year, Dr Klaus became the first-ever glider pilot to fly over Mount Everest. Though born in Germany, Dr Klaus now lives near Serres in southern France where he has a glider centre called Quo Vadis.

Meanwhile, the opening keynote address was delivered by Dr Melchor Antunano, the Director of Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, the Office of Aerospace Medicine and Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City, USA. Born in Mexico City, Dr Melchor Antunano is responsible for the oversight of FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine programmes in Medical Certification, Medical Education, Medical Research, Human Factors Research and Occupational Health Services.

In his opening remarks, Dr Melchor Antunano described how advances in nano-technology, genomics, and neuro-technology are bound to influence pilot performance in the future. He said that applying magnets and tiny electrical currents to the brain - known as trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TCMS) - has been shown to improve concentration in pilots at high altitudes.

“Aviation is no longer the same. In the past few years it has taken huge strides in all fields. We need to first embrace these changes and see how individuals, corporates or inventors have been looking at ways and means of making flying safer than what it was. I am convinced that this technology can definitely be used to help top-level pilots make even more demanding flights,” 

Dr Melchor said.

He further suggested that progress in medical sciences can permanently alter aviation in the future. 

“Angry or upset people are more prone to accidents and this is where emotion recognition software inside the cockpit can read facial expressions to detect their mood and prompt them to calm down before take-off,”

 Dr Melchor said.

“Ultimately, the weak link in all this is the human body. But, the development in medical science can come to our rescue and help us tremendously. There is progress and we are moving forward at an amazing pace and it would be unfair to everyone if our industry too did not draw these benefits,” 

he added.

Other technology up for discussion included using bio-sensors to allow diabetics to obtain pilot licenses, building on systems already being tested by car manufacturers. Also present on the opening day was Dr Thomas Drekonja, flight surgeon, and consultant for Red Bull air races, who spoke about the detailed monitoring programme that is used to measure the biometrics of pilots performing under high g-forces.