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Website home>Newsletters>October 2003>New Flying After Diving Guidelines

Scuba Diving Newsletter

Flying After Diving Guidelines

The recent Flying After Diving Workshop produced some new PADI flying after diving recommendations. These are laid out below:

For Dives within the No-Decompression Limits (regular recreational diving)

  • Single dives - A minimum pre-flight surface interval of 12 hours is suggested
  • Repetitive dives and / or multiple day dives - A minimum pre-flight surface interval of 18 hours is suggested

In practical terms what this means is that you can end your diving at noon on a Phuket liveaboard cruise, and catch the first plane out the following morning.

For Dives requiring decompression stops

A minimum pre-flight surface interval greater than 18 hours is suggested

These Recommendations apply immediately to flights at cabin altitudes greater than 600 metres (pretty much every commercial flight) and to divers who are without decompression sickness (DCS) symptoms. Flying after diving recommendations need not be considered for flights to ambient / cabin pressures of less than 600 metres. This is because work by Buehlmann suggests that immediate ascent to 600 metres of altitude is possible with low DCS risk.

Recent experimental trials have indicated that the risk of DCS decreases as the pre-flight surface interval increases. Following these recommendations reduces DCS risk but does not guarantee that a diver will avoid DCS.

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