RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine

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Royal Air Force Centre of Aviation Medicine Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Active 1998-Present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Type Medical
Role Defence scientific institute
Part of Royal Air Force Medical Services and RAF Air Command
Based at RAF Henlow
Motto(s) Ut Secure Volent (Latin: That they may fly free from care)[1]

The RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine is a medical organisation run by the Royal Air Force at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire. It is the main site of aviation medicine research in the UK.



The RAF CAM was formed on 1 December 1998. It was pre-dated by the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine, which closed in 1994. CAM was formed by a merger of the School of Aviation Medicine at Farnborough and the Aviation Medicine Training Centre at RAF North Luffenham.

It was formerly part of RAF Personnel and Training Command, becoming part of RAF Air Command in 2007.


The RAF Medical Board was moved to RAF CAM and on 1 June 2000 the RAF Institute of Health moved from RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire to the centre, becoming the Occupation and Environmental Medicine Wing.

Royal Air Force Tristar at Kandahar Airfield in June 2008


Flying fast-jet aircraft puts the cardiovascular physiology of the human body under extreme physical stress. For example, without intervention exposure to high G force would cause the pilots to lose consciousness through lack of blood to the brain - G-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC). Medical effects caused by flying, such hypoxia and the effects of G-force are researched at the Centre (Eurofighter Typhoon pilots regularly experience 9G). Other dangers include rapid uncontrolled decompression from failure of cabin pressurisation, and the centre has four hypobaric chambers.

Airlines that do not have their own aviation medicine research establishments (e.g. British Airways) have contracted out work to the RAF's Centre.[citation needed]

Academic support

King's College London School of Medicine and Dentistry (Guy's Hospital) has run a MSc programme in aviation medicine, which involves the RAF's Centre, specifically the practical experience of G-forces, decompression, whole-body vibration, and vestibular (balance sensory system) and visual disorientation.[2]

Training courses

It provides training for aircrew from the RAF and other organisations (via International Defence Training or Horizon Training) in subjects such as using night vision goggles [3] and dealing with hypoxia.[4]


The RAF CAM has two black-coloured BAE Hawk T1 aircraft used for trials, which operate from MoD Boscombe Down. These two aircraft were also used by the previous organisation.

The former IAM centrifuge operated by QinetiQ at Farnborough is used for G-force simulation.

See also


  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 244. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X. 
  2. ^ Aviation Medicine MSc
  3. ^ Night vision goggles
  4. ^ International Defence Training courses

External links

  • Online catalogue
  • Aviation photography showing the two Hawk aircraft
  • Medical training support website
  • Bear Grylls learns about hypoxia during parachute training in 2005

News items

  • BBC's Inside Out visits the hypobaric chamber to test the effects of hypoxia
  • Price Edward tours the centre in October 2006

Coordinates: 52°00′35″N 0°18′08″W / 52.0098°N 0.3021°W / 52.0098; -0.3021

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