Flying After Diving Workshop: Guidelines

3/30/2011 3:17:26 PM

On May 2, 2002, DAN hosted a one-day workshop to review the state of the knowledge of flying after diving and to discuss the need for new flying after diving (FAD) guidelines for recreational diving.

The last FAD guidelines dated from an Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) meeting in 1991. Attended by 40 people representing the recreational diving industry, government agencies and Divers Alert Network, the May workshop was chaired by Dr. Paul Sheffield, organizer and leader of the 1991 UHMS meeting.

Discussions during the morning session reviewed the history of FAD, the development of FAD guidelines and the results of recent studies concerning the risk of decompression sickness in FAD. The afternoon session debated whether changes to the FAD guidelines were warranted by data presented in the morning and, if so, what should those changes be. The workshop concluded that changes were justified. The new guidelines are outlined below and will be formally published this spring in the workshop proceedings.

Provisional Flying After Diving Guidelines

The following recommendations, which apply to recreational divers, represent the consensus reached by attendees at the 2002 Flying After Diving Workshop. The recommendations are based on earlier published work and recent experimental trials as described in the Workshop Proceedings. They apply to air dives followed by flights at cabin altitudes of 2,000 to 8,000 feet (610 to 2,438 meters) for divers who do not have symptoms of decompression sickness (DCS). The consensus recommendations should reduce DCS risk during flying after diving but do not guarantee avoidance of DCS. Preflight surface intervals longer than the recommendations will reduce DCS risk further.

Dives within the No-Decompression Limits

  • A Single No-Decompression Dive: A minimum preflight surface interval of 12 hours is suggested.
  • Multiple Dives per Day or Multiple Days of Diving: A minimum preflight surface interval of 18 hours is suggested.

Dives Requiring Decompression Stops

  • There is little experimental or published evidence on which to base a recommendation for decompression dives. A preflight surface interval substantially longer than 18 hours appears prudent.