Sunday, July 1, 2012

Afraid of Flying? Finally there’s an App for That

NEW YORK—July 1, 2012— A new tool is now available to help the millions of Canadians who are afraid to fly. At JFK International Airport New York, the VALK Foundation, a Dutch research organization, launched the first scientifically-developed, web-based treatment for people who suffer from mild to moderate fear of flying. Already in use in Europe, the ‘Flight App VALK’ a mobile tool for iPhone, iPad, and Android users will be available for the first time in English.

The `Flight App VALK’ was developed as a result of 23 years of scientific research and treatments by the Dutch VALK Foundation. Last week the app was launched in Italian and Portuguese. Soon, the fear of flying application will also be available in Chinese and French.

Panic button

The Flight App is designed to help relax passengers before and during flights. It informs users about aerodynamics, flight safety and turbulence, sounds and sensations during departure, flight and landing. Practical audio exercises help lower flight stress. When the passenger’s flight stress reaches a panic level, users of the application can access the special panic button, which provides audio and written aid to decrease the stress level immediately. The Flight App can be used during the flight in the airplane mode. Once downloaded, the program does not require internet connection in the air.

Different causes

“Many airlines recognize the value of the program and are committed to converting fearful flyers, up to 30 percent of mature western World population , into tranquil passengers,” said Dr. Lucas van Gerwen, Director of the VALK Foundation. Fear of flying can have many causes, including a bad experience with turbulence, vertigo, a compulsion to remain in control, and claustrophobia. Consequently, the fear expresses itself differently for each person. “The fear of flying application we have created, aims to transfer all of the knowledge we have developed through our therapy program over the last two decades into a mobile application that will help ease travellers’ fears,” added Mr. van Gerwen. The VALK Foundation is one of the first centers for research and fear-of-flying-treatment worldwide and the organizer of three world conferences on fear of flying.

Intercultural study

The launch will also be the kick-off of a worldwide intercultural study about the prevalence and differences in passengers afraid to fly and the potential impact of the fear of flying application. According to Dr. van Gerwen, who is an aviation psychologist, clinical psychologist and professional pilot with more than 30 years in the field, intercultural prevalence research is extremely difficult because some cultures will never admit fear in public. In the near future, the Fear of Flying App will make it possible to fill in questionnaires on an anonymous basis. The number of downloads in different countries will be monitored. Dr. van Gerwen and his team have developed and validated the scientific questionnaires to diagnose the fear of flying. They are translated in 12 languages.

About Dr. Lucas van Gerwen

Dr. Lucas van Gerwen, Director of the VALK Foundation, is a European registered aviation psychologist, clinical psychologist and professional pilot. He has worked in this field for more than thirty years and has written several books and scientific papers on the assessment and treatment of fear of flying. In 2004 he received his PhD from the University of Leiden. Van Gerwen was Head of the Board of three International Fear of Flying Conferences, the most recent one was in cooperation with ICAO in Montreal. # # #

Editors Note: For more information on the Flight App, Dr. Lucas van Gerwen email: and/or call: + 31 71 5273733, + (31) 651154991, + (31) 653165789

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