Women, minorities included in Navy aircrew study

Avatar for Jen NevansBy Jen Nevans | May 15, 2023

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 21 seconds.

The U.S. Navy is undergoing a comprehensive anthropometric study intended to expand access to the Navy for prospective future aviators — and for the first time, women and minorities are being included in the study, addressing the changing demographic that make up the Navy’s aircrew.

The U.S. Navy is undergoing a comprehensive study intended to expand access to the Navy for prospective future aviators. Skip Robinson Photo

“Our population has changed drastically demographically,” said Lori Brattin Basham, principal investigator with the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), which is leading the first comprehensive study for the Navy since 1964. “In the 1960s, we didn’t go out and sample women. We really didn’t have that many women to sample in terms of aircrew at that time.”

Basham said today’s aircrew is also made up of more minority men as well. Acknowledging that not all members of the aircrew are the same size and shape, the study intends to help ensure flight suits, helmets, boots and other mission equipment and gear — and even the aircraft itself — are designed for today’s diverse Navy aircrew and the future workforce.

“Participation in this study, especially females and non-white males, is vitally important to ensure that gear is available, our gear fits, our survival equipment is available and ready to be used by us,” said Lt. Jennifer Knapp, a former naval flight officer and military liaison helping to lead the Navy study. “In a future survival situation, we need to have gear that fits.”

Lt. Jennifer Knapp, an aerospace experimental psychologist and former naval flight officer, stands for body measurements by an anthropometry scientist from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. U.S. Navy / Chuck Regner Photo

The group is looking for 4,400 active, enlisted, and commissioned aviators, flight officers and aircrew to take part in the 30- to 50-minute study. In order to create a comprehensive anthropometric database, researchers plan to take 32 body measurements and scans, including standing and sitting heights, body weight, leg length, hand, foot and head sizes, and range of motion. Measurements will take place at the Navy’s most populous air bases across the country from May to December 2023.

While other anthropometric studies can range from $6 million to $14 million to carry out, NAWCAD said it plans to perform the study in-house, costing the Navy less than $2 million. To stay within budget, the group will use the command’s advanced 3D scanning hardware and expertise, along with supportive technology and subject matter experts through other services and industry partnerships.

The project is expected to take two years to complete, and the data collected is intended to benefit generations of warfighters. In addition to a summary statistical report, the group plans to create anthropometry and 3D scan databases, body composition report, and range of motion/injury report, among others. To protect participants’ privacy, researchers will not include personal information in the study results. For more information on the study, visit tinyurl.com/aircrewanthro.

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