May blog

I am sitting in the sunshine in Wiesbaden, staying with friends following my return from the Aerospace Medical Association meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, from 8th to 12th May. This was a very successful meeting, attracting 1300 delegates, of whom over 400 were international.

There was the usual diverse mixture of stimulating scientific sessions, many social gatherings, and of course the opportunity to meet with friends, both old and new, in the aerospace medicine domain. Navigating the often perplexing mixture of sessions on offer was made easier this year by the use of an 'app' for the iPad.
The ESAM session on Wednesday lunchtime was very well attended, to the extent that the hotel needed to provide extra chairs. I chaired the session, which was opened by Roland with "What did the Roman's ever do for us?" a reflection on the achievements of ESAM, and the benefits of membership. Our Italian colleagues in particular, liked the title, and the
eye catching posters and flyers with this theme, courtesy of Seppe Celis, attracted curious attendees.
I followed Roland, and gave a brief presentation of the future strategy for ESAM "Life after LAPL...toddling into the future" The full strategy is available on the website.
We then moved onto the scientific part of the meeting and were treated to three excellent presentations. Ries Simons' "899 hours safe...901 hours unsafe?" compared the use of prescriptive flight time limitations with a risk management based approach. As we have come to expect he gave an informative, but entertaining, presentation. This will be available on the web site in due course, adding to the ESAM position paper currently available on the topic.
'Where no man has gone economy class" by Francesco Torchia was an equally thought provoking review of the aeromedical challenges of space tourism. We hope that Francesco will join us again at the ECAM in London, in 2012, and expand on this theme.
The final presentation was by Uwe Stuben, "Bad hair day" in which he reviewed the use of hair analysis in the supervision of trainee pilots in Lufthansa with proven or suspected alcohol and substance misuse. This provoked a lot of interest, and many question to Uwe both during and after the session.
We can only hope that the quality of this meeting in Alaska will allay the fears of some that ESAM is not a serious scientific organisation.
Some of the ESAM executive team met with the AsMA team, including the new, and immediate past President, to make progress on a joint meeting in Europe. This is not likely to be before 2018, due to the mechanism of budget setting for many organisations who would potentially fund delegates. Some financial modelling will be done in order to clarify
the potential risks of such a venture. There will be a further conference call in August to review this modelling, with a decision being taken at the end of the year.
The next blog is likely to be posted after the Executive Committee meeting in Seville, on 18-19 June.