Skip main navigation

Basic health – Medical issues or conditions

.
doctor

Medical issues or conditions that may affect a person’s ability to operate an RPA safely

As a pilot, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are generally healthy and alert. Remember that you are interacting in a 3 dimensional space and you are responsible for the safety of your crew, members of the public and potentially manned aircraft.

Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to avoid medical problems associated with obesity such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Low iron levels can cause anaemia and may result in extreme fatigue and dizziness.

Gastrointestinal infection is the most common single cause of pilot incapacitation. Symptoms are typically experienced within 8 hours of consuming contaminated food or drink and may result in vomiting, nausea, fever, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

Remote pilots often find themselves standing outdoors for extended periods. The human body is most comfortable within a temperature range of 21 to 27 degrees C.

In temperatures greater than 32 degrees C, symptoms may include tiredness, and loss of concentration. Maintain hydration to prevent heat stress.

Recent injuries, medical procedures or blood donation may cause tiredness and lowered blood pressure.

Emotional considerations such as fear, anxiety or depression can affect a remote pilot’s actions.

Eyesight Limitations

A remote pilot must continually scan the sky for obstacles, including manned aircraft. Size and Contrast are the two primary factors that determine the likelihood of detecting other aircraft. Pilots must see any threats to safety to take appropriate mitigating action. Limitations include such aspects as:

Visual Field

The visual field is normally 180o or half a circle and describes the width of peripheral vision. When looking straight ahead, it should be possible to sense motion off your right or left shoulder

Glare/Contrast

It is hard to distinguish objects without a contrasting background. A white drone flying far away against a light blue sky will be hard to see.

Flicker/Vertigo

This is an imbalance in brain cell activity caused by exposure to low –frequency flickering of a relatively bright light. It can be observed during helicopter flight when observing the rotor blades as they turn in the sun causing the light to strobe.

Vertigo can cause dizziness and even seizures.

Threshold of Acuity

This is the spatial resolving capacity eg. Minimum separable acuity is the smallest space the eye can see between parts of a target. Human scale objects are resolvable as extended objects from a distance just under 3km. eg. At that distance it is possible to just make out two distinct headlights on a car.

Empty Field Myopia (empty field short sightedness)

During relaxed vision, the eye will typically focus somewhere in the range of 1-2m. To avoid this limitation when scanning for hazards when piloting an RPA, it is important that you lengthen your focus on a distant object such as a cloud.

Blind Spot

The blind spot is the small area on the retina where the nerve fibres lead into the optic nerve. The object will still be visible (unless otherwise blocked from view) due to the binocular vision we have from having two eyes with co-ordinated control

Colour Vision/Blindness

Colour vision/blindness does not affect licence approval.

a colour blindness image test

Can’t see the numbers in these dot circles? Despite what you may have heard this has no bearing on your ability to obtain a licence.

DISCUSSION

This article is from the free online

Drone Safety for Managers (Australia)

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education