Pilot Medical

What type of medical do I need?

Professional? If you hold a CPL or an ATPL, your licence will only be valid if you hold a Class 1 EASA medical certificate. You also need a Class 1 EASAmedical certificate in order to train for a CPL or an ATPL.

Individual? Anyone wishing to train for a private pilot’s licence will need to obtain an initial Class 2 or LAPL medical certificate or an national private pilot licence NPPL medical declaration as part of the licensing requirements.

Where to get my Medical in the UK?

UK Medical examiner database: Below is the link to the CAA website for the list of all the approved CAA Medical Examiners. Click here

Class 1 renewal Form: Click here

Medical certificate validity periods: Click here 

Make sure you bring: Your License, Passport or driving license for ID, Current medical certificate and any notes and documents related.

When to book my CAA Medical to keep its original expiry date?

You can take your revalidation examination up to 45 days before your certificate’s expiry date.

If your certificate expired more than 2 yearsbefore your attempt to renew it, the examiner will need to assess your aero-medical records before carrying out the renewal examination. If more than 5 years before then you will have to follow the same process as for initial issue. Find out more: Click here

What does a class 1 pilot medical consist of?

There will be a series of questions about medical history and any previous illness. If there is any major illness in your past, it is important to bring reports about it from your family doctor or treating specialist.  Appendicitis or a broken arm are not regarded as major illnesses. Further details of the regulatory requirements can be found on the CAA’s Medical Examination Standards page.

There will also be a general physical exam which will check that your lungs, heart, blood pressure, stomach, limbs and nervous system are functioning correctly. You can also expect tests to determine your hearing capabilities, an Electrocardiogram (ECG) to measures the electrical impulses passing through your heart, a Lung function test (spirometry), a Haemoglobin blood test and a Urine test – you will be asked to provide a sample of urine, so remember to attend for examination with a full bladder!

Where do I get a CAA Medical?

Find on of the 100s of AME’s in the CAA database below:

  • UK Medical Examiners (listed by AME) – Choose All-UK option)
  • UK Medical Examiners for a Postcode Region
  • Non-UK Medical Examiners (listed alphabetically by country – Choose Non-UK option )

UK Medical examiner database: CAA website of all the approved CAA Medical Examiners. Click here

Frequently asked Questions

Article Source: Pilot Career News

How do I get my medical?

Before you start your journey in becoming a pilot you will need to undertake a medical to see if you are fit to fly. You will first need to book in for an initial medical examination. The Class 1 initial medical examination under EASA must be carried out at an Aeromedical Centre (AeMC) and you can find all current AeM Centres listed on the Civil Aviation Authority website. The medical examination can take up to four hours to complete. It examines your medical history, eyesight, general physical check, hearing, heart rhythm, lung function, as well as including blood and urine tests.

How long does it take?

The initial class 1 medical will take approximately 4 hours. You will be required to see an optometrist, undergo an ECG, blood tests for haemoglobin and cholesterol, audiogram, spirometry, urine test and full clinical examination. A medical certificate is issued on the same day if all required standards are met.  If the required standards are not met or further investigations are necessary before a decision on medical certification is possible this process will take longer.

How old do I need to be?

Applicants for an ATPL licence must be at least 21 years old. An applicant for a Commercial or Multi-Crew Pilots Licence must be at least 18 years old.  A Class 1 Medical Certificate will be required while completing the training for these categories of licence.

Can I fly if I wear glasses?

Contrary to popular belief, you can fly commercial aircraft wearing glasses or contact lenses, as long as your vision is correctable to 20/20. If you wear glasses or contact lenses it is important to take your last optician’s report along to the examination. A comprehensive visual examination by an eye specialist is required during the initial examination. The CAA provides guidance on vision standards for pilots who wear glasses and contact lenses.

What do they test?

There will be a series of questions about medical history and any previous illness. If there is any major illness in your past, it is important to bring reports about it from your family doctor or treating specialist.  Appendicitis or a broken arm are not regarded as major illnesses. Further details of the regulatory requirements can be found on the CAA’s Medical Examination Standards page. There will also be a general physical exam which will check that your lungs, heart, blood pressure, stomach, limbs and nervous system are functioning correctly. You can also expect tests to determine your hearing capabilities, an Electrocardiogram (ECG) to measures the electrical impulses passing through your heart, a Lung function test (spirometry), a Haemoglobin blood test and a Urine test – you will be asked to provide a sample of urine, so remember to attend for examination with a full bladder!

What next?

Initial applicant enquiries on fitness for Class 1 medical certification should be made to an Aeromedical Centre. Once you have obtained a valid EASA Class 1 medical, you will need to have it revalidated once a year, up until the age of 60 when you will have to revalidate it every six months (or 40 if you are flying Single Pilot commercial air transport passenger operations).

What are the different classes of European Pilot Medicals?

Professional? If you hold a CPL or an ATPL, your licence will only be valid if you hold a Class 1 EASA medical certificate. You also need a Class 1 EASA medical certificate in order to train for a CPL or an ATPL.

Individual? Anyone wishing to train for a private pilot’s licence will need to obtain an initial Class 2 or LAPL medical certificate or an national private pilot licence NPPL medical declaration as part of the licensing requirements.

Useful Information

Pilot Incapacitation

Pilot Incapacitation is the term used to describe the inability of a pilot, who is part of the operating crew, to carry out their normal duties because of the onset, during flight, of the effects of physiological factors.

Incapacitation may occur as a result of:

  • The effects of Hypoxia (insufficient oxygen) associated with an absence of normal pressurization system function at altitudes above 10,000 ft.
  • Smoke or Fumes associated with an In-Flight Fire or with contamination of the air conditioning system.
  • Gastro-intestinal problems such as severe Gastroenteritis potentially attributable to Food Poisoning, or to Food Allergy.
  • Being asleep.
  • A medical condition such as a heart attack, stroke or seizure, or transient mental abnormality.
  • A Bird Strike or other event causing incapacitating physical injury.
  • A malicious or hostile act such as assault by an unruly passenger, terrorist action or small arms fire, or possibly malicious targeting of aircraft with high powered lasers by persons on the ground.

Unless the incapacitation occurs on a single pilot operation, incapacitation of one pilot may not be immediately obvious, become only progressively evident, or escape notice altogether until an unexpected absence of response or action occurs.

The Effects of Alcohol and Drugs on Pilot Performance

When alcohol is consumed, it is very rapidly absorbed into the blood and tissues of the body but the process of detoxification is quite slow. The impairing effects of alcohol are apparent quite soon after ingestion but it takes about 3 hours for the effects of 1 ounce of alcohol to wear off. Nothing, inclusive of sleep, coffee or exercise, will speed up this process or minimize the effects of the alcohol.

Drugs and the condition or illness for which they are being taken can negatively impact on pilot performance and efficiency and, as a consequence, can pose a significant risk to the safety of flight. Both prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs can impair judgment and degrade coordination. Common side effects of many non-prescription drugs, such as cold tablets, cough mixtures, antihistamines, appetite suppressors and laxatives, include drowsiness, confusion, blurred vision, and dizziness. The effects of some of these drugs can be even more pronounced at altitude than they are on the ground. Drugs can also have a cumulative effect and, if more than one drug is taken at the same time, the combined negative effect may be well in excess of that of the individual drugs.

Stress

Stress is a bodily response to a stimulus that disturbs or interferes with the “normal” physiological equilibrium of a person and, in the context of aviation, refers to a state of physical, mental or emotional strain due to some external or internal stimulus.

Understanding the factors that lead to stress, as well as how to cope with stressful situations, can greatly improve an individual’s performance. Also, understanding that colleagues may react differently to the same stressor is important and can help you control a situation that can quickly get out of hand if an individual is having a negative reaction.

Startle effect

The startle response, which in professional circles is also referred to as amygdala (or limbic) hijack, is the physical and mental response to a sudden intense and unexpected stimulus. This physiological reaction, which is most commonly known as the “fight or flight” reflex, will occur in response to what may be perceived as a harmful event: an attack, a threat to survival, or more simply, to fear itself. The fight or flight response enables us to react with appropriate action: to run away, to fight, or sometimes, to freeze to be a less visible target. In some circumstances, it can also lead to actions inappropriate for the situation.

Memory

All intelligent systems that process information require memory to direct actions and to store the results of those actions. Speaking, reading, listening, decision-making and taking action is only efficient when the brain has the ability to properly process, store, and recall information.

Human memory has a variety of functions. It is able to maintain a very detailed “picture” of the past that helps to identify and classify sensory stimulations (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste). Memory also stores experiences and knowledge to help us in similar situations in the future.

In spite of its power, human memory is limited and can fail when storing or retrieving information. Some things are easy to recall and others are not. For instance, sometimes it is easy to recall what you ate yesterday evening but you forget the frequency for the last air traffic control (ATC) clearance. It is possible to have information “on the tip of your tongue,” but only to be able to recall it after you needed it.

Overall, memory is a complex process that is integrally involved in all information processing steps (perception, comprehension, decision, and action). Memory is not simply a single process; rather, it is generally considered to be composed of multiple stages in which information is processed and stored differently. These stages are classified according to the amount of time information is stored at each stage. The three basic types of memory are:

Sensory memory

Short-term memory (STM)

Long-term memory (LTM).

Sleep

Lack of sleep is a major contributor to fatigue which, in turn, can profoundly influence flight safety. Insufficient sleep can lead to poor concentration, increased irritability, and lethargy. Most people have experienced these symptoms, but despite their experience, many continue to operate with a sleep decrement and therefore put others at risk.

A common misperception is that nocturnal sleep onset is simply a habit pattern based on external cues. However, when no direct time indicators (e.g., watch, radio, newspapers) or indirect time indicators (e.g., lighting, noise, temperature, vibrations) are present, a person will maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle. The persistence of the sleep-wake cycle reflects the existence of an internal system, the biological clock, that can function autonomously when no time indicators are available.

Hypoxia

Hypoxia is a state of oxygen deficiency in the body sufficient to impair functions of the brain and other organs. Because of the nature of flight, flight crews are much more likely to suffer from hypoxia than “normal” people. Knowing what to look for and how to react to resolve the situation is essential to maintain flight safety. This Briefing Note defines hypoxia and describes the symptoms and performance decrements that can result from it. It is important for flight crews to understand the warning signs of hypoxia and how the human body responds to reduced levels of oxygen. Also included are some techniques that can help a flight crew member defend against the effects of hypoxia.

In aeronautics, hypoxia typically results from a decompression or lack of pressurization of the aircraft cabin. Hypoxia occurs within a few minutes if the cabin pressure altitude rises to between 5,000-6,000 m (about 16,000 – 20,000 ft). Acute hypoxia is characterized by impaired cognitive performance and sometimes a loss of consciousness.

Lifestyle and Adverse Performance Effects 

Flying is a complex task that requires the full cognitive, judgemental and psychomotor capabilities of a pilot. If these abilities are impaired to any extent, safety can be compromised. Many conditions and substances can cause impairment. For example, all humans occasionally have mild illnesses such as colds that can potentially impair their performance. Some people have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol that are not disabling but require the use of medication to control symptoms. Drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, can relieve symptoms and, perhaps, even cure the illness. Many people routinely drink alcoholic and/or caffeinated beverages. Each of these uses of drugs, as well as other lifestyle activities, can affect flying, particularly on long-range, monotonous flights, impair the pilot’s abilities and compromise safety.

Fatigue

Pilot fatigue is a concern because it can affect flight safety, efficiency, productivity, and personal health. Fatigue is recognized as one of the major factors that can impair human performance and has been cited as a cause of accidents and incidents in the transport industry. It is important for you to understand and recognize the physiological and psychological signs and effects of fatigue. Once you are able to recognize the signs and symptoms of actual or impending fatigue, you can apply proven techniques to avoid its negative outcomes.

Cosmic radiation

Radiation is “the transfer of energy from a source” which may be in the form of electromagnetic radiation such as gamma rays and x-rays or in the form of mobile and highly accelerated subatomic particles. Ionising radiation is radiation which can displace charged particles, which means that molecules within the cell walls of living organisms can be disrupted. “Cosmic Radiation” is the collective term for the ionising radiation present in the earth’s atmosphere which has originated either from the sun or from outside our solar system (galactic radiation) as Primary Particles or has been created as a result of the interaction of these primary particles with the earth’s atmosphere to create Secondary Particles.

Decompression Sickness

Decompression sickness is caused by the development of nitrogen bubbles in the blood and tissues as a result of a reduction of atmospheric pressure which happens too quickly for the body to dispose of the excessive nitrogen. The most common symptom of decompression sickness is ‘the Bends’, manifested by pain in and around the large joints of the body; other common symptoms include chest pains, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, and cramps. Severe cases can result in paralysis or death. Excessive rates of atmospheric pressure reduction typically can occur due to:

Rapid or explosive decompression of an aircraft.

Rapid ascent while SCUBA diving from depth to the surface.

Exposure to typical aircraft cabin altitudes (5,000 to 8,000ft) too soon after SCUBA diving.

Decompression sickness normally only occurs following long exposures (more than half an hour) to altitudes above 25,000 ft. As the response to cases of aircraft decompression is immediate descent, it is rare for decompression sickness to occur in aviation.

Hyperventilation

In layman’s terms, Hyperventilation can be described as excessive over-breathing. Over-breathing can occur from an increased rate or depth of breathing (or both together).

This is how a person may describe another who is hyperventilating, or starting to hyperventilate: panting – rapid shallow breathing – gulping – choking – constant deep breathing – hiccupping. It can be distressing to see someone gasping for air, so an observer may not be able to use such precise adjectives! Some of the other symptoms described below (Signs and Symptoms) may also be visible to an observer but, without a visible or audible connection to excessive breathing, an observer may not connect them as anything to do with hyperventilation.


Middle Ear

The Middle Ear refers to a collection of bones (ossicles) and muscles contained within a chamber (tympanic cavity) that sit between the Outer Ear and the Inner Ear, bounded by the tympanic membrane (eardrum) and the oval window respectively. The eardrum transforms air pressure waves into physical vibrations – the middle ear amplifies these vibrations – the oval window allows the amplified vibrations to “flow” into the fluid-filled cochlea. Therefore, the primary function of the middle ear is to act as a mechanical amplifier. Without the middle ear 99.9% of the sound energy entering the outer ear, and vibrating the eardrum, would be reflected by the fluid-filled inner ear. This is because fluid has a much higher impedance to sound waves than air, which in contrast is a very efficient medium.

Sinuses 

Sinuses are cavities within a bone or other tissue, and humans have many around their bodies.

For flight, we are concerned mostly with the “paranasal sinuses”, which are a group of four paired air-filled spaces that surround the nasal cavity and they are named after the facial bones in which they are located:

the maxillary sinuses, the largest of the paranasal sinuses, are under the eyes, in the maxillary (cheek) bones

the frontal sinuses, superior to the eyes, in the frontal bone, which forms the hard part of the forehead

the ethmoid sinuses, which are formed from several discrete air cells within the ethmoid bone between the nose and the eyes

the sphenoid sinuses, in the sphenoid bone at the centre of the skull base under the pituitary gland.

The paranasal sinuses are lined with respiratory epithelium; which is a moist tissue whose purpose is protection from potential damage caused by mucous movement, and also to act as a barrier to pathogens and particles.

Ozone

Ozone is poisonous and, in high enough concentrations, can cause headaches, irritation to the respiratory system, and can harm lung function.

Aircraft flying above the Tropopause may therefore be flying through air with high concentrations of Ozone. Catalytic converters are fitted to the aircraft air conditioning systems on most modern aircraft to break down the Ozone into harmless Oxygen.

Visual illusions

Visual illusions occur when the pilot’s eye is deceived into making a faulty assessment of aircraft position or orientation in relation to the external environment.

An analysis of 76 approach and landing accidents and serious incidents conducted for the Flight Safety Foundation, including controlled-flight-into-terrain (CFIT) accidents, worldwide between 1984 and 1997, found that twenty-one percent involved flight crew disorientation or visual illusions, and that poor visibility was a circumstantial factor in 59 percent of the accidents and incidents.

Common cold

The common cold is incurable, we are all vulnerable (globally) to catching them and many of the symptoms can affect human performance, especially in the areas of sensory perception, balance, ability to concentrate, fatigue, and physical pain. Flying whilst infected with a cold increase the risk of physical damage to the inner ear and sinuses.

Time of Useful Consciousness

The Time of Useful Consciousness (TUC) or Effective Performance Time is the period of elapsed time from the interruption of normal air supply or exposure to an oxygen-poor environment until the time when the ability to function usefully is likely to be lost at which point an affected individual would no longer be capable of taking normal corrective or protective action.