No Bathroom? No Problem for Pilots - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

No Bathroom? No Problem for Pilots

Burlington, Vermont - May 29, 2008

When fighter pilots suit up for flight they wear a lot of gear and a lot of layers, especially during cold weather months.

"You're like the Michelin man going out there," says Vt. National Guard Col. Phil Murdock.

And flights in recent years are longer, as pilots like the Green Mountain Boys deploy to the Middle East.

So, what if they really have to go!?

"We're flying longer and longer missions, with the missions in Iraq, where pilots will need to relieve themselves several times in one flight," explains Murdock.

Until recently they've had to pee in a bag called a Piddle Pak.

"It requires a few more gymnastics in the aircraft to use something like this," says Murdock.

Pilots have to partially undress and unstrap in the cockpit during mid-flight.

"To try to get access to the required anatomy, is quite an issue," says Murdock. "And then you kind of have to get yourself up."

"Our system basically gets rid of that system," explains Mark Harvie of Omni Medical Solutions.

Nature called-- so did the Air Force-- and Omni Medical Solutions answered.

The Milton company landed a contract to create a system that allows pilots to pee with fewer distractions.

Pilots wear boxers. Men have a cup-like device, women a device similar to a sanitary napkin. They do their business and the urine is pumped away from the body into a disposable bag. Omni spells relief: AMXD. That's the name of the unit.

But making these systems is not just about comfort and convenience, it's also about safety. Three U.S. military aircraft have gone down, two pilots killed, trying to relieve themselves in mid-air.

"It was to try to avoid that type of accident," explains Murdock.

So far, about 300 are being used by the military. They cost $2,000 a piece. Omni says it continues to improve on what started as a pilot-project.

"We'll always be working on making it better and smaller and lighter and easy to use," says Harvie.

It expanded into a larger facility-- expecting to sell as many as 2,000 AMXDs a year... helping to prevent any more accidents.

Darren Perron - WCAX News

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