Pakistan Trains Female Fighter Pilots

Boing boing is linking to a BBC story that Pakistan is now training women to be fighter pilots.

In the human factors course that I took as an undergrad years ago, the professor consulted with the military on the several designs. He told us of the stringent anthropometric (body-shape) requirements for fighter pilots. For example, their arms and legs must be a certain length because the seats cannot be made adjustable for G-forces expected in flight. Their torsos cannot be too tall or the canopy window won’t close; nor too short or the pilot won’t be able to see over the control panel.

There is also a weight restriction. The seat ejectors are designed for a very narrow range of weights (if I remember correctly, something like 175-190lbs). If the pilot is any heavier, there is a risk the ejected seat will not clear the aircraft. If the pilot is too light, there is a risk that ejection will cause severe spinal injury and/or death.

Given that women are, on average, lighter than men, I wonder if these women cadets fit the anthropometric requirements for the aircraft that they will be piloting.

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