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I was wondering if airline companies have a Chief Medical Officer who is in charge of the well-being of passengers. For example:

  • in timing the lights on/off moments on intercontinental flights;
  • timing and type of food served, to support periods of sleep, wake and disembarcation;
  • airconditioner procedures, to ensure passenges don't get sick from too cold airconditioners (for example when the captain released power from the engines to the airconditioners after take-off, while the cabin crew had set it to min-min on an insufficient EPU at a hot airfield, it happily started blowing 10 degrees C in my neck);
  • methods and moments of desinfecting the air/passengers when contagious diseases break-out (or a flu epidemic in the US, with all its internal air-traffel);
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    $\begingroup$ This may be more of a Travel question. $\endgroup$ – fooot Feb 14 '15 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ I think it counts, it's about airline operations and we usually answer those, don't we? $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Feb 15 '15 at 2:25
  • $\begingroup$ @JayCarr it seems like it's not necessarily off-topic here, but it also seems like not many people here could answer this, and there might be more at Travel, though I'm not sure. $\endgroup$ – raptortech97 Feb 15 '15 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ @raptortech97 We have several airline pilots who frequent this stack and could possibly know the answer... I'd venture to guess we have more airline employees here than Travel does. Just my thoughts though.. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Feb 15 '15 at 4:05
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how much any of your things would have to have an airline doctor worrying about them -- lights turning on/off I'd expect is basically "turn off when it's night, turn on when it's day," food served I'd expect to be the province of a chef and logistics people, air conditioners should be set to room temperature, contagious disease is the job of governments to handle. $\endgroup$ – cpast Feb 15 '15 at 9:45
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I'm not sure if every airline is the same. However each major airline I am familiar with does have a medical unit, usually headed by a doctor.

However, most of their efforts are actually dedicated internally - by that I mean looking after their employees. Things like:

  • Assessing the employees ability to return to work after an injury or illness
  • Fatigue management policy
  • Assessing whether a certain condition is acceptable to work with
  • Overseeing drug and alcohol rehabilitation (in some cases in Australia at least the employee is not automatically fired for being drunk/on drugs, they are allowed to complete a program and continue work)
  • Occupational health and safety assessments
  • General 'doctoring' duties for aircrew

Of course they are also involved in passenger health policy development, but as I said - the majority of their work is dealing with their own staff (at least, this is from my viewpoint, but I may not be seeing the whole picture).

In terms of an outbreak like you have mentioned, there is always an action plan ready to be put in place which is developed with the government health department (or CDC in USA).

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