11 Jun 2019

US Air Force flight equipment redesigned for female pilots

Flight equipment is being redesigned with measurements taken from female aviators to make the US Air Force more inclusive.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, held a Female Fitment Event, June 4, where Air Force and Navy female aviators gathered to have their measurements are taken, which will be used to design new prototypes for female flight equipment. Previously, uniforms and equipment were designed purely based on male measurements as there were more men in the Air Force.

The Department of Defence hopes that changes such as this will encourage more women to enter the armed forces. Equipment such as flight suits, straps, and safety measures are less effective if they are not measured accurately to the person using them, which can compromise safety and performance.

Lt. Col. Shelly Mendieta, plans and requirements officer said: “We wanted to bring together a large enough group of women to get our different sizing both in our uniforms, helmets and masks. When you go to a squadron to go to a fitment event, there’s usually only a couple of women, so to get a full spectrum of what is going to work for women aviators, we needed to bring them all together in one place.”

“The goal is to ensure that the equipment that we are developing is going to fit properly, so that we have a safe and ready force. By measuring a spectrum of women at different stages in their career, we can ensure that we have better equipment.”

“Women have been flying in the Air Force for a very long time. We have made progress but this is the first time in my 20-year career that we have had the kind of momentum that we have to get this right. We have the opportunity to get this right and we have to grab that and take it for all it’s worth.”

It is hoped that other departments will be able to use the measurements to create more inclusive equipment. The event also allowed female aviators to share their opinions on how the Air Force could become more inclusive.

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