The Air Force this week updated its policies restricting how pregnant airmen perform their flight duties, to make it easier for them to do their jobs without a waiver.
Remotely piloted aircrew, missile operations duty crews and some fully qualified pilots are now allowed to do their assigned jobs while pregnant, without a medical waiver, the Air Force said in a release Monday.
No airman will ever be forced to fly while pregnant, even if their doctor says the pregnancy is uncomplicated, Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg said in the release. But if an airman with an uncomplicated pregnancy chooses to keep flying, she can change her mind at any time, Hogg said.
“We recognize that each pregnancy is as unique as our professional female aviators we trust to operate our weapon systems,” Hogg said. “We’re empowering women to work closely with their obstetrician and flight medicine providers to pick a path that is tailored to their individual needs, while ensuring we’re doing everything to support them throughout their pregnancy.”
The Air Force has also expanded the time parameters for flying while pregnant, the release said. It has eliminated the need for a waiver from higher headquarters, allowing airmen with uncomplicated pregnancies to return to flight, and delegated those authorities down to the local level.
Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the director of staff and adviser for the Air Force’s diversity and inclusion efforts, also said the service is reviewing occupational hazards in aviation to see if more opportunities can be opened up for pregnant airmen on all platforms.
“We’re focused on eliminating barriers in our existing policies that signal to female airmen and potential recruits that becoming a parent and being an aviator, controller or missile operator in our service are incompatible,” Van Ovost said.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.