Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM), in its more than five decades of existence has done yeoman service to the growth of Aviation Medicine / Aerospace Medicine in India. Starting as the School of Aviation Medicine, the founding fathers of this prestigious institute envisaged a multiple role of training, research and consultancy for it, which continues unfettered till date. Besides, IAM has kept pace with the changing times, including upgrade of its infrastructure, to offer the latest and the best to its primary clientele, the Indian Air Force. Training of the aircrew and the doctors in uniform has evolved constantly. Though the research has taken a back seat due to focus on other activities and paucity of manpower, yet efforts are in the right direction. It is the consultancy which has remained unsung, what with all the glory going to the developing agencies, be it the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) or the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Continue reading
The practitioners of Military Aviation Medicine would be required to deal with newer challenges in the field due to redefined aspirations and strategic needs of the Indian Armed Forces, as per the emerging politico-economic realities of our nation. The integration amongst the three services, formation of an Aerospace or the Strategic Command and the availability of the airborne command and control platforms shall make the tactical pilots in their combat aircraft omni-present to face the enemy and force them on the back foot. There would be unmanned aerial vehicles jostling for operational space with manned aircraft. Integrated operations shall be undertaken on land, at sea and in the air, any time of the day or the night, adding to the workload of the pilots, with frequently changing operational terrain. More importantly, the missions would extend beyond the national boundaries, and Indian warriors shall operate with multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural groups in the emerging world order. The ever changing location of action and adjustment to newer conflict zones across the world shall affect their adjustment to the varying conditions, both physically and psychologically. Continue reading
It is the next logical step for our technologically advancing nation coming on its own that the Indian scientists aspire to explore the last frontier – Man in Space. The scientific know-how and the determination to prove itself amongst the exclusive manned space mission club is what spurs our space scientists to take up the challenge of the coming decade to launch our own men and women in space. Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) continuing success in proving its prowess in rocket launch technology and carrying commercial cargo into space logically gives the nation the confidence of its success in manned mission in space. ISRO has already demonstrated this with Chandrayan-1, besides having made their intent known to launch manned missions as early as circa 2015-17.
Civil aviation in India is booming – a second airport is in offing in Mumbai; Mysore airport opened for commercial flights and more tier 2 cities are preparing to connect to the regional aviation hubs; and the airfare related war of words between the airlines and the government continues. But what does it bode for the practice of Civil Aviation Medicine in India, in terms of medical assessment of pilots, airport clinics, and airlines’ medical departments?
Couple of years back, when the Medical Evaluation Centers of the Indian Air Force were overwhelmed by requests for appointments from the aspirant pilots for medical assessment, the third Centre was set up, besides DGCA granting approval to three corporate hospitals for undertaking initial Class I medical assessment. Such interim arrangements are small steps but too little, too late.
These are exciting times: The boom in Indian Aviation
The Indian economy juggernaut rolls on, driving the sleepy industries of the country including the aviation – both commercial and industry. The boom in commercial aviation is evident for all to see, with the Indian Railways losing their passengers to the low cost aviation carriers, and the international airlines connecting more and more Indian cities with the rest of the developed world. Orders for aircraft are being placed and ex-pat pilots continue being hired by domestic carriers to cope with the shortfall of trained pilots in the country. Though these are worrying days too, what with the airfares skyrocketing!