Hypoxia risk awareness
On Friday, November 16 2018, Comex Hyperbaric and Hypobaric Test Center hosted a delegation of students and instructors of EPNER (School of flight test and reception staff) for an hypoxia risk awareness session.
Formerly flight test center / CEV created in 1946, now part of DGA Flight Test Dpt, EPNER trains crews involved in test flights ; theoretical courses come along practical hands-on exercises that allow in-flight tests of the aircraft characteristics, carried out under the optimum safety conditions. Trainees are : test pilots, engineers, mechanical and test engineers as well as air traffic controllers for specific test flights.
Located in Istres (60 km from Marseilles) since 1962, EPNER carries out its activities within the DGA (General Delegation for Weapons, a branch of French MOD). This gives the school a unique position between the Armed forces and the Industry on one hand, and between military and civilian testing sectors on the other hand. EPNER has been training crews in these different areas for more than 70 years.
The high quality of this training, based on teamwork between pilots, engineers and air traffic controllers, is recognized at the highest levels of the international aviation community.
Comex Altitude Simulator
In order to carry out hypobaric tests in the field of aeronautics and space, Comex Test Center of has been equipped since 2017 with an hypoxic chamber, also called hypobaric chamber or altitude simulator.
The possibility of reproducing in this 20m2 hypoxic room flight conditions up to 40 000 meters of altitude (131 000 feet), allows our partners, the main european and worldwide international organizations and industries in the aeronautics and aerospace sectors, to perform, with the help of our dedicated staff, tests on human behaviour, as in this case a simulation of hypoxia – and also qualification tests for equipment and materials.
Total control of extreme conditions of pressure and temperature allows our company to be involved in a very wide range of projects.
With the unit set up in the flight simulator mode, this test was designed to allow EPNER trainees to face hypoxia situations in the most realistic possible conditions.
This allowed the crew to be exposed to hypoxia in an attempt for each trainee to identify possible precursory physiological signs.
It further allowed detection of equipment failures (O2 breathing masks) or structural damage on the aircraft (due to sudden pressure loss etc.).
It also emphasized the dangers of flying at high altitude.
Under these various situations, trainees had to apply recently learned techniques to bring the crew safely back to the ground or to a possible ejection zone.
Medical assistance was provided all through the test sessions by the Institute of Physiology and Medicine in the Maritime Environment and Extreme Environment “PHYMAREX” which brings together a group of doctors and nurses mainly from the Public Assistance of Marseille Hospitals (APHM) and more precisely the Hyperbaric Center of Sainte Marguerite University Hospital. Operational members are trained in hyperbaric medicine and / or emergency medicine and / or aeronautical and aerospace medicine.
Under the supervision of Dr. Mathieu COULANGE, emergency physician specializing in hyperbaric medicine, maritime medicine and aeronautical medicine. Head of the hyperbaric, underwater and maritime medicine department of Sainte Marguerite University Hospital.