aviation medicine, scientific study of the biological effects of aviation, especially on human beings. Although aviation medicine is concerned with such problems as the spread of diseases by persons traveling by air and the harmful effects of noise and air pollution, its principal concern is with stresses applied to the passengers or crew of aircraft in flight. These stresses can include exposure to extreme temperatures, large inertial forces occurring when an aircraft undergoes acceleration, oxygen deprivation, and air sickness, as well as pilot fatigue and psychological disturbances. As the biological problems of space flight exceed considerably those of atmospheric flight, aviation medicine has become a special branch of space medicine, the latter study having largely absorbed the former.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.