Can Pilots Fly Pregnant?

Whether or not people should fly while pregnant is a common question for both passengers and pilots alike.

A commercial airplane is not generally considered dangerous to a low-risk pregnancy. At an average cabin altitude, the maternal hemoglobin remains steady at 90 percent saturated.

As fetal hemoglobin has favorable properties, such as higher oxygen levels, increased fetal hematocrit, and the Bohr effect, the baby should not be affected by a normal altitude of an airplane. 

In fact, the only reason why flying pregnant over 36 weeks is not advised is due to the risk of premature birth. Without knowing whether there will be a place to land to get the expectant mother to a hospital in time for the birth, you’re risking giving birth on the plane.

This is unsanitary and dangerous for both mother and baby with no specialized equipment to aid you if anything went wrong. So, the answer to your question is yes, pilots can fly while pregnant as long as they’re low-risk and progressing normally throughout the pregnancy.

Can female pilots get pregnant?

Of course! Any woman can get pregnant whenever she and her partner want to, no matter what career they are in. Only 5 percent of air force pilots are female, and 9.5 percent of these in 2018 were pregnant.

Pregnant pilots can continue to fly well into their third trimester as long as their pregnancy is progressing correctly and they are not in the high-risk category. The only issue that pregnant pilots might face is their growing stomachs getting in the way of the controls. However, this is no different from pregnant women having to reach further to the wheel when driving.

In a bid to keep pregnant pilots as comfortable as possible, there are adjustments that they can make to ensure that they can properly control the airplane no matter how big their bump gets.

Female pilots that fly a fighter jet or another aircraft with an ejection seat are immediately put on ‘Duties Not to Include Flying’ to keep themselves safe. However, female pilots of transport or cargo aircraft can fly up until the end of their first trimester.

Once this has been completed, they have the opportunity to receive a waiver that allows them to continue flying up until 24 weeks. This waiver can only be applied for if the pilot has applied for it with consent from their squadron leader, flight surgeon, and obstetrician.

Do pilots get paternity leave?

The answer to this question is very vague online and therefore should be discussed with the individual airline that you’re employed by. However, the general consensus is that the majority of airlines do not offer any paternity leave.

However, you can use your FMLA benefits to make up for the lack of paternity leave. You can also use your sick days and vacation allowance to make your own paternity leave up, although this will mean that you have no other vacation days for the rest of the year.

Plus, the amount of time you get off will depend on how generous your vacation allowance is. Some might get two months off while others will only have a week.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires employees to give their covered employees unpaid leave from employment that will ensure that their job is waiting for them when they return.

To qualify for FMLA, employees must have worked for the employer for 12 months or more and for at least 1,250 hours during these 12 months.

Despite all of this, you should talk to your employer to know exactly what they’re offering you when it comes to paternity leave. Some might surprise you with a more generous offer, while others might not be protected by FMLA. The only way to be sure of what you’re entitled is to ask them outright.

How long can pregnant pilots fly?

Again, this is a difficult question that has a lot of varied answers online. Some people claim that they have been told to only work until their 14th week, or when the first trimester ends, unless they are granted a waiver to allow them to fly up until their 24th week.

However, others are told that they can fly until their 26th to 32nd week. This allows them to fly for longer and therefore continue earning their wage. Some airlines even allow pregnant pilots to fly right up until the end of their pregnancy with the doctor’s approval.

How long you can fly during your pregnancy will depend on your contract and the airline you’re using. Again, you should talk to your employer about what you’re entitled to so that you’re not in for any nasty surprises.

In times like these, it’s best to hope for the best while preparing for the worst.