RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine

The Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine was a Royal Air Force aviation medicine research unit active between 1945 and 1994.

It was first located at Farnborough Airfield in Hampshire, and was successor to the wartime RAF Physiological Laboratory. The Institute conducted theoretical and applied reseach in support of flying personnel with divisions for acceleration, altitude, biochemistry, biophysics, personal equipment and teaching.

The IAM obtained a decompression chamber (moved from the Physiological Laboratory) in 1945, supplemented by a climatic chamber in 1952, and a human centrifuge in 1955 (the latter facility is still in operation and was designated a Grade 2 Listed Building in August 2007).

Additionally, the Institute was responsible for a number of mobile decompression chambers and the training of operators for chambers deployed at certain RAF operational stations with the object of familiarising flying personnel with the effects of annoxia at operational altitudes.

The IAM became a world leading centre for aviation medicine research in the 1960s and 1970s, gaining additional facilities, and continuing an active flight research programme that commenced in World War II. Research into protection against the effects of high altitude, high G force, heat and cold stress, noise and vibration, sleep and wakefulness, spatial disorientation, vision, aviation psychology and human error, and aircraft accident investigation dominated activities at the IAM. Much work was done to develop and improve aircrew life support equipment.

The IAM ceased to exist in 1994, when many research staff and facilities were transferred to the DERA Centre for Human Sciences.