Nestlé develops diets for pilots

Solar Impulse

Nestlé Health Science has signed a partnership with Solar Impulse to provide tailor-made meals for pilots during their unique round-the-world flight in 2015. This is being done in collaboration with the Nestlé Research Centre (NRC) in Lausanne (Switzerland) whose scientists have assessed the pilots’ individual nutritional needs and develop personalised dietary plans. Nestlé is responsible for providing nutrition, both from existing products and meals to be developed.

This partnership reflects an affinity between two parties that both are addressing major challenges to society.
­- Nestlé Health Science is on a mission of discovery and innovation, offering science-based nutritional solutions that change the management of health in a society whose healthcare systems are challenged by ageing populations and lifestyle related conditions;
­- Solar Impulse is a milestone project in the history of exploration, innovation, inspiration and pioneering spirit. With an airplane of perpetual endurance, capable of flying day and night, Solar Impulse is a demonstration of renewable energy and clean technologies.

During simulation flights made with both pilots in Dübendorf (Switzerland) in 2012 and 2013, our NRC scientists monitored what factors contribute to pilots’ nutritional needs. These included eating habits, taste preferences, energy levels and hydration requirements. NRC researchers evaluated product packaging to make them easier for pilots to use, open and eat, and examined conditions and space in the mock cockpit.

Special circumstances
“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.”

Menu plans
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.
Examining behaviour
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