Malaysia Centrifuge Program recognized by USAF

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

The U.S. Air Force recognized the certification of the Royal Malaysia Air Force's (RMAF) Institute of Aviation Medicine’s Centrifuge Training Program, enhancing interoperability with the RMAF and advancing the comprehensive partnership with a key partner in the Indo-Pacific region. 

At the request of the RMAF, last year the U.S. Air Force sent a team of subject matter experts from Air Education and Training Command to the RMAF centrifuge training facility. The team recognized it as meeting or exceeding U.S. Air Force standards for aircrew training. This recognition requires revalidation every five years.

"It was evident that personnel at the Institute of Aviation Medicine are highly qualified and offer a superb acceleration training program," said Senior Master Sgt. Sueiras Martinez, Air Education Training Command physiology programs superintendent.

Lt. Col. Michael Luby, Aerospace Physiology Training Branch chief, and his team, reviewed the RMAF’s instructors’ qualifications, centrifuge capability and classroom training during the visit. 

"Recognition implies that all Malaysian and foreign aircrew, trained at the RMAF’s Institute of Aviation Medicine, attending U.S. Air Force flying training programs will arrive with equivalent training, normally required at U.S. facilities," Luby said. "This, in turn, saves time and money; plus eliminates duplication of training for foreign students enrolled in U.S. Air Force flying training programs, a win-win for U.S. and Malaysia!"

In addition to academic course work, centrifuge training requires an aircrew member to sit in a gondola attached to the end of a centrifuge, a machine which spins at high velocity. As the machine spins faster, the gravitational forces, or g-forces, applied to the aircrew member will increase. Once the g-forces increase to a certain point, the member will experience gravitational-induced loss of consciousness or GLOC. The member must counter GLOC by demonstrating techniques taught in class.

Increasing g-forces and the rate at which they are increased presents the danger of GLOC because the force applied to the body disrupts blood flow to the brain. When the blood flow to the brain is disrupted, the available oxygen to the brain will quickly deplete and will cause a loss of consciousness.

A person standing at ground level is exposed to around one g-force, and the average adult can withstand up to four or five g-forces without danger of GLOC. Nevertheless, aircrew are required to undergo centrifuge training because they may be subjected to much higher g-forces.

“Centrifuge training is important to the U.S. Air Force because some of our high performance fighters can pull up to 9Gs,” Luby said. “Without the training, pilots would be at a greater risk of GLOCs, which could result in loss of the pilot, aircraft or mission capability.”

Luby and Martinez emphasized the importance of working closely with the RMAF and spoke fondly of the relationships they built.

"From the beginning of the visit, … working with the RMAF was a wonderful experience," Martinez said.

Luby echoed Martinez’s sentiment saying the RMAF was extremely professional and pleasant to work with and kept proper training and safety in mind.

“Regardless of where we are trained and educated, we all have the same objective, which is to look out for the well-being of the aircrew,” Luby said.  “So we start off having a common goal, which establishes a foundation for an enduring relationship.”

“The idea to get the RMAF’s Institute Of Aviation Medicine Centrifuge training module to be recognized and certified by the USAF was initiated during the 86th Aerospace Medical Association Annual Scientific Meeting in 2015,” said Aviation Medicine Physician Col (Dr) Saravanan Annamalai, Joint Forces Headquarters director of medical logistics. “The centrifuge training is a high-value training program in the RMAF and serves as a platform to foster good working relationships and friendships between Air Forces of different countries.”

Lt Col Sukhdev S. Purewal, U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation, said that the recognition garnered a great deal of attention at the highest levels of RMAF and the U.S. Embassy. 

“Collaboration of this nature speaks to the strength of our partnership and deepens interoperability between our militaries,” Purewal said. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with RMAF to ensure pilot safety and enhance operational readiness among our partners throughout the region.”