UNBROKEN: UH 1N AIRCREW CONTINUE OPS DESPITE WEAK HEARING PROTECTION
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AFB United States
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Since its inception in 1947, the United States Air Force has faced a nearly infinite list of problems which needed to be solved. Through the dedicated work of generations of Airmen, it has managed to find solutions to many of these issues and has maintained its position as the worlds greatest Air Force. However, that doesnt mean that the US Air Force is perfect, and there are still many issues that need attention. One of which, is the level of hearing protection provided to UH-1N helicopter aircrew. Despite having the best interests of its Airmen at heart, the Air Force has failed to equip these helicopter crews with proper personal protective equipment PPE. Helicopter aircrews are subjected to dangerously high levels of noise during standard operations and despite advances in helmet and earplug technologies, leadership in the UH-1N community is still using older versions. This older equipment does not provide the same level of protection, and leaves crews susceptible to issues with hearing loss after long term exposure to the hazardous noise levels. This issue not only affects the health and welfare of the UH-1N community now, but it also has long term negative effects for the Air Force. The refusal of the Huey community to spend the small amount of money that it would cost to update PPE now, will cost the Air Force and the American tax payer, money in the long run as those crew members receive disability payments in compensation for their hearing loss. In fact, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports that upwards of 7 billion have been spent on the treatment of hearing loss since 1977, some portion of which goes to retired Huey aircrew.
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