ARLINGTON, Virginia –
The Department of the Air Force has developed several products designed to assist aircrew to make the most informed decisions about whether to fly during their pregnancy.
In April 2022, the DAF issued a clarification of policies pertaining to aircrew during pregnancy. Since then, the Department recognized the need to provide aircrew, commanders, and healthcare professionals greater awareness of and transparency around the process for submission and review of waivers to fly during pregnancy.
The Aircrew Voluntary Acceptance of Risk, or AVAR, is a three-part document (including a risk acknowledgement page, an outline of medical risks, and acceptable flight profiles) designed to ensure aircrew have access to the information that will allow them to make the most informed decisions about whether to continue flying during their pregnancy. Additionally, a set of frequently asked questions and answers were developed for additional assistance. Both the AVAR and FAQs may be found on the Air Force Medical Service’s Reproductive Health webpage.
"At the end of the day, we need to balance operational readiness, safety, and our aircrew’s agency, and I'm proud of the progress we've made to that end," said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones.
Aircrew who want to be considered for crewed flight duty must personally request to continue flying during their pregnancy. The AVAR will help guide discussions with healthcare providers and inform members of both known and potential, but unmeasured, risks to make an informed decision.
To return to flying duties after becoming pregnant, the servicemember must submit a waiver for review by their flight surgeon, obstetrical care provider, and commander, who must collaborate to determine whether to approve the waiver. All flights must meet approved flight profiles and are based on commander's discretion and safety considerations.
DAF leadership’s intent is that aircrew are confident that the decision of whether to request to fly during pregnancy – or not – will have no impact on their military career. Aircrew who elect not to fly have other options to continue their career progression, such as maintaining currencies in the simulator, instructing academics, supervisor of flying, top-3, and many other training opportunities and duties.
"It was a team effort to develop these options for pregnant aircrew so they can continue carrying out the missions they are trained and ready to perform," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr.
As with any medical condition, the DAF will continue to review aircrew pregnancy policy and practices, including ongoing collection of health and safety data. The service remains focused on identifying, analyzing, and appropriately mitigating flight safety hazards and exposures to facilitate the safe and successful accomplishment of the military mission. Continual review will also drive appropriate modifications to the AVAR to allow aircrew to make the most informed decision on whether to request continuation of flight duties.