Nestlé scientists are developing personalised diets for pilots undertaking the first solar-powered flight around the world. Nestlé Health Science has signed a four year partnership with Solar Impulse to provide tailor-made meals for pilots during the unique journey in 2014.
Scientists from the Nestlé Research Center monitored a three day simulation flight in Dübendorf, Switzerland, to understand what factors contribute to pilots’ nutritional needs. These included eating habits, taste preferences, energy levels and hydration requirements. Researchers evaluated product packaging to make them easier for pilots to use, open and eat. They also examined conditions and space in the mock cockpit.
This tailored nutrition approach for the pilot is well aligned with Nestlé Health Science’s long-term vision and ambition to develop science-based personalised nutritional solutions.
“We looked at digestive comfort, hydration and protein balance,” said Amira Kassis, Project Leader for Energy and Metabolic Health at the Nestlé Research Center. “We are learning a great deal about nutrition in these special circumstances.”
Nestlé will design individual menu plans for each pilot taking part in the day-and-night round-the-world flight. The aim is to offer nutritious and tasty food which stays fresh and is easily stored in confined spaces in the aircraft. Nestlé will include some of its existing products, as well as fruit and dairy produce.
Nestlé’s packaging experts will adapt the products’ packaging to protect them from fluctuating cabin temperatures and barometric pressure changes and make them easier to use.
During the simulation flight, Nestlé scientists measured pilots’ energy levels using a specialised method which assesses respiratory gases. They examined body hydration using blood and urine samples. Pilots sampled food provided by Nestlé and completed questionnaires to indicate their food preferences.
They were scanned before boarding to determine their body composition and had their cognitive behaviour measured by the Solar Impulse medical team.
Video Virtual Flight 2012 (4min26) - Nutrition - Link
Images: © Solar Impulse | Jean Revillard