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Flying After Diving

Current PADI Flying After Diving Guidelines for Divers wishing to travel in an aeroplane after scuba diving in Ko Lanta, Thailand

After scuba diving, current PADI Flying After Diving guidelines say that you
should not go to altitude (fly) within 12 hours of completing a single dive or
18 hours when doing multiple dives (where possible wait 24 hours).

The Flying After Diving Workshop held in May 2002, in Durham, North Carolina, USA, produced some new flying after diving recommendations. These new recommendations should be implemented in all PADI courses and programs and will be incorporated into training materials as they come up for reprint. They apply both to Recreational Dive Planner and dive computer guided dives and are important for anyone considering dive travel.

Recommendations of the 2002 Flying After Diving Workshop

General Comments:

Recent experimental trials indicate the risk of decompression sickness (DCS) decreases as the preflight surface interval increases. Based on these studies, the Workshop reached the following consensus recommendations. These recommendations apply to flights at cabin altitudes between 600 metres/2000 feet and 2400 metres/8000 feet and to divers who are without DCS symptoms. Work by Buehlmann, which was used by the US Navy Diving manual, suggests that immediate ascent to 600 metres/2000 feet altitude is possible with low DCS risk. In 1999, the US Navy adopted more flexible procedures based, in part on Buehlmann and Vann et al. Following these recommendations reduces DCS risk but does not guarantee that a diver will avoid DCS.

For Dives within the No-Decompression Limits:

  • Single Dives – A minimum preflight surface interval of 12 hours is suggested
  • Repetitive Dives and/or Multi-day Dives – A minimum preflight surface interval of 18 hours is suggested

  • For Dives Requiring Decompression Stops:

  • A minimum preflight surface interval greater than 18 hours is suggested
  • Flying after diving recommendations need not be considered for flights to ambient/cabin pressures less than 600 metres/2000 feet.