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Created by Aerox

Pilots need (more) oxygen

There is a reason why practicing meditation, mindfulness, and even yawning all focus on taking deep breaths—oxygen is at the center of our consciousness.

Pilots want to be conscious of these five important facts:

1. Hypoxia affects you well below 12,500 feet

Our brains thrive on oxygen. Depriving the brain of sufficient oxygen—a condition known as hypoxia, causes impaired cognitive abilities similar to the effects of alcohol consumption. The effects of hypoxia are felt at altitudes as low as 8,000 feet, and our susceptibility to hypoxia can depend on factors such as hydration, fatigue, weight, and stress. Using IMSAFE to assess yourself before each flight can also help you assess your susceptibility to hypoxia. 

2. Regulatory compliance will not keep you safe

As student pilots, we all memorized FAR Part 91.211 regarding oxygen usage to pass our written exam.  Because we memorized that oxygen is not legally required below 12,500 feet, we believe that oxygen isn't necessary below 12,500 feet. That is not the case. In fact, under Part 135 regulations, and in Canada and Europe, the 12,500-foot limitation for flying without oxygen is actually lowered to 10,000 feet. The justification for allowing flight at 12,500 feet without oxygen under Part 91 was only to provide an additional westbound altitude over the mountainous terrain of the western United States before oxygen was legally mandated. There is no physiological basis for it.

3. The deadly duo of carbon monoxide and hypoxia

Carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations as low as 50 parts per million can severely impact your brain’s ability to function. Use an active monitor in the cockpit with an audible alert to notify you of excessive CO concentrations so you can take decisive action.  If you are also hypoxic when exposed to CO, the elevated levels of CO will trick your pulse oximeter into thinking your oxygen saturation is higher than it is, making CO and hypoxia a deadly combination in the cockpit.

4. Oxygen for brain health

Our brains thrive on oxygen. Depriving the brain of oxygen can impair cognitive abilities, similar to the effects of alcohol consumption. Using supplemental oxygen – especially during higher workload periods like flying in instrument meteorological conditions, particularly during an instrument approach, can keep you at your sharpest and can fight fatigue and sluggishness. If you’ve ever driven home after a flight feeling really foggy and just wiped out, it’s possible that the onset of hypoxia was affecting your body—just when you need to be at your sharpest. 

5. Keep it at your fingertips and ready to use

Before each flight, thoroughly inspect and test all oxygen equipment. Make sure your passengers can don their equipment and adjust the flow without input from you in order to minimize distractions and ensure you have enough oxygen for the flight you are about to make. Also, always have a pulse oximeter nearby to check your blood-oxygen saturation.  If it's 90 percent or below, get on the O2!


From portable systems to highly engineered systems on Part 25 aircraft, Aerox® has a system for you to deliver high performance at an economical cost. Since 1981 we have been providing the aviation industry with innovative solutions for all of its oxygen needs. While our comprehensive website is representative of many of the products that Aerox offers, if you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, please contact us. Aerox is certified to ISO9001:2015 and AS9100D. We offer a wide array of TSO oxygen masks and PMA oxygen cylinders in both Kevlar and Steel and operate FAA Repair Station YXQR567B We offer a complete line of stock or custom systems, parts, and accessories. We are a provider of OEM systems, serving Diamond, Agusta, Piper, and many others. We can also design any kind of emergency or portable system, for use in the air or on the ground. Contact us to let us know how we can help you.