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Airus back for in-flight testing at SJAFB

By Airman 1st Class Rebecca Sirimarco-Lang

  • 4th Fighter Wing


SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.-- Today women make up a small but ever-growing percentage of military aviators. Efforts are being made to increase their numbers by removing the barriers and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base gets to be a part of that major change in history.

Seymour Johnson was the first base to ground test the in-flight bladder relief system, Airus, in February 2022. Now, just over a year later, female pilots and weapon system officers from the 4th Fighter Wing are flight-testing the new system.

“Since the first ground test, changes have been made in the material choices, shapes and sizes for female aviators for the interface," said Colt Seman, Airion Health chief of design. "The usability of the controller has also been improved by making the battery removable for in-flight use. These changes were minimal, mainly focused on material adjustments to enhance the overall functionality of the product.”

This technology underwent rigorous ground-testing to ensure its functionality and reliability before moving to in-flight testing. After two years of development, the system is designed to allow female pilots to relieve themselves without putting themselves in danger. The testing will assess the system's performance and impact on operational efficiency and safety during sorties.

Colt expressed that the key factor in developing the in-flight bladder relief system was collaborating with Jennifer West and Dr. Bessler to analyze the requirements for female aircrews anatomy. They worked together to figure out how the system would function and to create a design that would be universally effective for all female pilots.Recognizing the importance of tailored bladder relief options with female aircrew in mind, the collaboration between the Air Force Agile Combat Support Directorate's Human Systems Division and innovative companies like Airion has led to the development of the Airus system.

"Some of the feedback we have received from our first flight test at Moody was that it significantly decreased the time it takes to urinate in the cockpit," said Jennifer West, a medical advisor for Airion. “ That was a significant milestone for them to not have to spend five to seven minutes trying to use the restroom while flying."

Airion will continue to conduct in-flight testing with female aircrew Air Force wide to get a feel for the system in different aircraft. The necessity for the Airus system is becoming evident. With plans to expand the technology to other service branches and organizations, the future looks promising for female aviators who will benefit from this groundbreaking innovation.

"I will say that this is a good way to expedite the product development process," said 1st Lt. Naomi Cuadrado, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron a test engineer. "By following the ‘test, fix, test’ method during the ground testing phase, we were able to identify and address the majority of issues. Seeing the successful development of a product with minimal to no problems is a significant achievement in the Air Force procurement process."

As efforts are being made to increase the number of women in military aviation, the United States Air Force has made a significant stride in addressing the unique needs of female aviators with the development of Airus. This groundbreaking technology not only provides a more comfortable and convenient option, but also has the potential to enhance mission readiness and effectiveness. By collaborating with innovative companies like Airion, the Air Force is setting a precedent for gender-specific solutions in the aviation industry and paving the way for other military branches and commercial airlines to follow suit. The Airus system is a testament to the ongoing dedication to supporting and empowering female aviators globally. The system will be available as soon as the end of the year for all female aircrew in the United States Air Force.


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