The 35th Aviation Medicine (AvMed) Coordination Board Meeting was held in Seville, Spain, on 10 and 11 April 2018. The Board meets twice each year at various locations on a rotation basis and is a central policy-making and activity body in what is a highly successful and mature interoperability domain for the EAG. This 35th Board Meeting, which was warmly hosted by the Acuartelamiento Aereo de Tablada of the Spanish Air Force, focused on the creation of new virtual AvMed networks to promote closer cooperation across a range of specialist areas, and also shared common findings on the utility of the EAG’s AvMed SharePoint-based external web tools.
The Board is a unique forum where information is shared among AvMed specialists throughout the EAG’s network, in order to identify possible areas of interoperability that can be developed and finalized to produce tangible results. National representatives request inputs from other CB colleagues about the different national approaches to common AvMed issues, which are discussed both during the Board Meetings and also on an ongoing basis throughout the year.
During this 35th Meeting, the Board discussed and endorsed the 2017 AvMed Coordination Board Annual Report and built on agreements made during the previous (34th) Board Meeting. These included the establishment of a new AvMed Subject Matter Expert (SME) Database and a new (10th) amendment to the AvMed Technical Arrangement (TA). The Board also agreed that the first amendments should be made to the High Cost Equipment TA, which was first established in 2016 to facilitate exchanges of medical equipment, and which should now incorporate new Board members and new AvMed cost equipment details.
The Board’s origins stem back to the 1st EAG AvMed Project meeting, which took place on 30 May 2001 at the EAG Headquarters at RAF High Wycombe, in the UK. Subsequently, the AvMed TA was developed, which was signed by the 7 EAG Air Forces’ Chiefs of Staff in 2005 and now provides the legal framework under which the Board operates. The Board comprises one or more specialist representatives from each participating nation, and plans and supervises its business under the authority of the AvMed TA.
As an example of recent Board activities, policies discussed during 2017 included flight crew licensing and aeromedical exam frequency, flight surgeon qualifications and training, crew fatigue management, laser eye regulations and hypobaric chamber operations.
During the 35th Meeting, the CB also discussed the organization of the 14th Advanced AvMed Course, which provides advanced training for Flight Surgeons in the field of AvMed and is one of the most successful and popular projects that the CB has achieved over the years. The objective of the Course is to provide Senior Medical officers with the latest information concerning the newest developments in the field of Aviation and Space Medicine, to enable them to perform high-level Staff duties and also advise military policy makers on Aerospace Medicine related matters. The AvMed Course lasts six weeks and is organized in a modular structure that is delivered in different locations, enabling participants to visit the most advanced Aviation Medicine Centres across Europe. Thirteen Courses have been successfully run since 2005, allowing almost one hundred Flight Surgeons to benefit from the training, including surgeons participating on an invitation basis from non-EAG Nations. This interaction is based on the principle that qualified and experienced Flight Surgeons from allied nations can provide substantial feedback in terms of experience and knowledge, thus contributing to the creation of a network of experts and increasing reciprocal interoperability.
In the future, the Board aims to introduce new IT-based processes, giving access as readers to Advanced AvMed Course Students and national AvMed Subject Matter Experts, as well as former Board members. These measures will help to harmonise medical standards, develop novel ways of teaching and bring into line the training of aircrew and medical personnel, all at reduced cost and savings in manpower, for the benefit of the stakeholders.
The next milestone will be the 36th AvMed Coordination Board Meeting, which is scheduled to take place on 24 and 25 October 2018 at the Centre of Aviation Medicine at RAF Henlow in the UK, to coincide with the Closing Ceremony of the 14th EAG Advanced AvMed Course.