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Is there an FAA rule or Advisory Circular with regard to flightcrew member blood donation? For example, how many hours or days is required or advised before a pilot may act as a crewmember?

I'm interested in finding the source of legitimate FAA policy or guidance for flightcrew members. If the answer is, there is no FAA rule or advisory circular, I'd also be interested in specific examples of FAA-approved air carrier policy.

It seems 24 hours is the generally accepted waiting period to recover from possible hypoxia related to a donation.

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    $\begingroup$ The Pilots Handbook says, "Hypemic hypoxia can also be caused by the loss of blood due to blood donation. Blood volume can require several weeks to return to normal following a donation. Although the effects of the blood loss are slight at ground level, there are risks when flying during this time." $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Jun 20, 2017 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ This link gives some guidelines, faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/… 24 hours for blood donation, 4 hours for platelets. I always wait until the next day after donating platelets since I’m slightly allergic to the sodium citrate that they use as a thinner and it wears me out. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Jun 20, 2017 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ lukecolli98 contributes: For a PPL holder under EASA/CAA, it's 24 hours (source: Pooley's Air Pilots Manual, book 6). He believes it is longer for commercial operations. $\endgroup$
    – STWilson
    Jun 21, 2017 at 17:27

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An air carrier that I have worked for specifically addresses this issue in their General Operations Manual—which is accepted by the FAA. The manual gives the following requirement:

Flight Restrictions After Blood Donations

Flight personnel shall not participate in any capacity as flightcrew members for a period of 24 hours after donating more than one-half pint of blood.

Note that this portion of this manual is accepted by the FAA, not approved.1

One unit of blood is generally 470-500 mL, or one pint. The one-half pint specified above half of a regular unit of blood. According the the Red Cross, a typical donation is about one pint, or one unit.


The FAA also publishes the Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners. I am not an AME, nor am I fully familiar with the Guide or how to interpret it. However, I understand that the following table shows that outside the listed time-frames, an applicant for an airman's medical certificate could be considered medically fit for flight duty:

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1 The terms Approved and Accepted mean specific things to the FAA. See 8400.10, Vol 3, Ch 15, Sec 1:

Approved: When approved is used to describe a document, manual, or checklist, it means that a regulation requires FAA approval and that the FAA has evaluated and specifically approved the document, manual, or checklist.

Accepted: Accepted is used to describe a document, manual, or checklist that does not have, or is not required to have, FAA approval. Only a portion of an operators manuals are required to have FAA approval. The remaining portions are accepted by the FAA. Operators are required to submit the entire general manual to the FAA for review. If the FAA concludes that an accepted section of the general manual is not in compliance, the FAA must formally notify the operator of the deficiency. Upon notification, the operator must take action to resolve the deficiency.

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    $\begingroup$ Great. @DawnBreaker found this Ultralight AC: AC90-89B. $\endgroup$
    – STWilson
    Jun 21, 2017 at 17:32
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There is no 14 CFR (FAR) or Advisory Circular that requires a set wait time between giving blood and flying. The closest thing is a recommendation in a handbook for ultralight flight testing. Where it recommends not flying for 24 hours if giving 1 unit of blood (500ml) or less and 72 hours if giving more.

Now of course if you do fly during those time periods, be aware that you might get hit with the FAA's favorite catch all 14 CFR 91.13 Careless or reckless operation instead. (Though a decent aviation lawyer might could get you off pretty easy on this charge.)

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    $\begingroup$ AC90-89B is a great find. It seems ironic to find that advice in the realm of ultralight aircraft vs commercial operations. $\endgroup$
    – STWilson
    Jun 21, 2017 at 17:24
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From what I know, for crew members are prohibited from donating blood unless a period of 72 hrs has elapsed from the time of donation until the next scheduled duty flight. Source : Regulation of the CAA (South African Civil Aviation Authority which follows FAA requirements and regulation)

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer gives interesting information, but should be a comment since this question is asked exclusively about the FAA. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Jun 21, 2017 at 17:02

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