Moody tests female in-flight bladder relief system

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sebastianelli
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Air Force pilots endure hours of flight training to sustain air superiority. For female pilots, that time in the cockpit creates an uncomfortable scenario when it comes to the need to use the bathroom – should they drink the normal amount of water or abstain? Both options have inherent risk, so the Air Force is moving one step closer to an effective in-flight bladder relief solution. 

Pilots from the 74th Fighter Squadron at Moody AFB recently participated in tests, conducted with the 46th and 28th Test Evaluation Squadron, to evaluate the effectiveness of a system called Airus by Airion Health. 

“This new system is a solution to the current problem female aviators face with bladder relief in the jet,” said a 74th FS pilot. “This system is a safer option and ease-of-use will allow for better combat readiness.”

The combat readiness question comes into play when female pilots choose to tactically dehydrate so they are not forced to use the bathroom in flight. Tactical dehydration is when aviators avoid hydration hours before a flight to prevent the need to relieve themselves. This approach reduces G tolerance and can cause disorientation for pilots.

However, the other method of relief also poses challenges.

“With current bladder relief options, pilots are unstrapping and putting their lives and mission at risk to void their bladder,” said Capt. Katie Hendershott, a program manager at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Human Systems Division. “The test event at Moody is one of four ground test events with Airus bladder relief devices. Upon completion of ground testing, we will begin flight testing to ensure there is a seamless and safe integration with aircraft.”

The new system has been specifically designed to dock to the female body. The padded cup can be discreetly worn with specific underwear, and the system connects from the flight suit to a pump. A system controller will then pump the liquid out and away from the body into a collection bag. 

Two upcoming ground test locations at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, are scheduled to be done before the projected release of the Airus system in the Fall of 2024.

“I hope that this is not the end and we can continue to develop advancements for all aircrew,” said a 74th FS pilot. “I hope this will allow younger females to grow up in an Air Force that has a multitude of options.”