By lex, on May 14th, 2011
Spend twenty years flying fighters to their performance limits, and your back and neck will remind you of it for the rest of your life.
Turns out the rotary wing bubbas have their own complaints:
Healing said there is a large discrepancy between the general population, where 20 percent of people suffer back pain, and helicopter crewmembers, where as many as 80 percent to 90 percent suffer lower back pain.
“In the worst cases, people have had to stop flying or go into surgery for fused spinal discs,” he said.
Poor posture and heavy gear such as body armor, helmets and night-vision goggles are believed to be part of the problem, he said. But the biggest problem might be in the design of helicopter seats.
“A significant issue is that the seats have been designed to sustain forces of a crash with little accommodation of normal flying comfort,” Healing said. “Even though the crashes occur infrequently, about 90 percent of the design is focused on that rare event.”
I have only a few, fretful hours in the passenger bay of helafloppers, but as I understand it the seats are designed to “stroke” during a hard landing after an auto-rotation after an engine failure. Might be would could design a better system in the 21st century, and avoid paying all of those disability payments, forever.