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Division holds Pitch Day event for bladder relief solutions

Maj. Jaime Nordin, 79th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot, checks out the cockpit of an F-16 to ensure everything is in order, March 26, 2011. The Air Force has had women in fighter pilot roles since 1993. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Daniel Phelps)

Maj. Jaime Nordin, 79th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot, checks out the cockpit of an F-16 to ensure everything is in order, March 26, 2011. The Air Force has had women in fighter pilot roles since 1993. (U.S. Air Force photo / Airman 1st Class Daniel Phelps)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – In an effort to find effective bladder relief solutions for female aircrew flying 8-10 hour missions strapped to an ejection seat, the Agile Combat Support Directorate’s Human Systems Division in partnership with AFWERX, recently hosted the Sky High Relief challenge.

During the challenge 56 companies showcased their bladder relief solutions, to include entirely new systems, along with parts that could be paired with commercially available products.

Of those companies, the Government awarded 10 prize challenges of approximately $100,000 each for components, and one prize challenge of $250,000 for a full system under the authority of USC 3719. These companies will be given the opportunity to advance to the second phase of the competition in order to respond to a Request for Prototype Proposal.

In total, $1,500,000 in cash prizes were awarded.

“This effort is important because right now, female aircrew lack effective options to relieve themselves in flight,” said 2nd Lt. Erika Cardinale, a program manager in the division’s Aircrew Performance Branch. “A number of them tactically dehydrate themselves [to avoid the need to relieve themselves in flight], and that can really effect their tolerance for g-forces, and physical and cognitive ability to fly and complete their mission. So we are looking to provide our female pilots more [bladder relief] options. The more we can give them, the better.”

“Our pilots do all of these sorties and missions, and yet one of the biggest fights they have is trying to use the restroom, because the devices they have are not sufficient and are leaving many with health concerns,” said 1st Lt. Stevan Bacchus-Grant, (Aircrew Performance Program Manager). “So we are looking for solutions that are suitable, comfortable and feasible for our female aircrew members.”

The division plans to send the 11 companies a Request for Prototype, which will have specific guidelines for the remaining part of the competition.