Flying After Diving

DAN reviews its guidelines on how soon divers may fly after diving.

I am a dive instructor in Venezuela. First, after making multiday repetitive dives, is an extended surface interval beyond 12 hours before flight considered enough? Second, driving to altitude after diving is one of our peak topics. Since our closest dive training site is a bay surrounded by mountains, after diving we must drive through a mountain pass nearly 1,000 feet / 305 meters above sea level, and then to Caracas, nearly 3,300 feet /1000 meters above sea level. Waiting 12 hours after recreational or training dive activities is not the local practice and, as far as I know, there have not been any reports of decompression sickness (DCS). Is our practice safe?
Revised Flying After Diving Guidelines for Recreational Diving - May 2002

The following guidelines are the consensus of attendees at the 2002 Flying After Diving Workshop. They apply to air dives followed by flights at cabin altitudes of 2,000 to 8,000 feet (610 to 2,438 meters) for divers who do not have symptoms of decompression sickness (DCS). The recommended preflight surface intervals do not guarantee avoidance of DCS. Longer surface intervals will reduce DCS risk further.

  • For a single no-decompression dive, a minimum preflight surface interval of 12 hours is suggested.

  • For multiple dives per day or multiple days of diving, a minimum preflight surface interval of 18 hours is suggested.

  • For dives requiring decompression stops, there is little evidence on which to base a recommendation and a preflight surface interval substantially longer than 18 hours appears prudent.