Dayton, OH – January 21, 2021 – When the United States Air Force first admitted women into pilot training in the 1970s the pilot body size restrictions, which were based on male distributions, did not change. All the aircraft in service at that time had been designed using body size data for Air Force males. This historical approach has presented a barrier to women’s service in USAF aviation. The first aircraft specified to accommodate a much broader pilot body size (for men and women) was the T-6 primary trainer in the early 1990s. As a result, women Air Force officers below body size limits (and men who were above) could apply for a size waiver to enter pilot training. This drove the need for a cockpit accommodation study in the late 1990s to determine the actual body size limits of each aircraft in the inventory to properly assign and track pilots who were smaller (or larger than) the legacy pilot body size limits.
These body size “filters” are represented in the Web-based Pilot Screening Software (WebPASS) used by the USAF Air Education & Training Command (AETC) to safely establish cockpit waivers for individuals outside the 64” to 77” stature range. However, no equivalent body size data exist for the Career Enlisted Aviator (CEA) crew stations. Therefore, the USAF Airmen Accommodation Laboratory has been tasked to conduct anthropometric accommodation evaluations for all CEA stations, establishing safe body size ranges required for each position. Additionally, in August 2020, a memo from Dr. William Roper, the Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, instructed that all air crew stations on current and future platforms, as well as the flight equipment to perform their mission, should physically accommodate the central 95% of a recruiting population. This represents a tremendous shift in policy that encourages and increases opportunities in aviation for women and everyone not within the legacy size range.
The AAL has and will be funded to conduct the studies that will:
- Determine body size limits for Career Enlisted Aviator (CEA) positions,
- Verify current pilot body size limits per platform (or recalculate, given modifications),
- Address sizing and function of Aircrew Flight Equipment (AFE),
- Statistically define the future body size variation of the recruiting population
- Produce a 3D scanner-based system that will be used to size uniforms, equipment and assign aircraft positions based on measured body size.
STI-TEC is the primary contractor supporting the Airmen Accommodation Laboratory with seven full time scientists, anthropologists, and engineers. Their experience spans back to the late 1980s and includes many members of the team that originally conducted the cockpit accommodation study in the late 1990s. The STI-TEC team, working alongside AFLCMC/WNU government engineers, is also supporting programs such as the Next Generation Fixed Wing Helmet (NGFWH), Next Generation Ejection Seat (NGES), and the In-Flight Bladder Relief System, all designed to improve protection for the expanding USAF aircrew. The multi- disciplinary STI-TEC team is uniquely qualified and undeniably focused on their efforts to expand opportunities for women in the Air Force.