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Home > Blog > Medical Conditions Which Prevent You From Flying

Medical conditions which prevent you from flying

Posted 19 Jan 2023

Medical Conditions when flying

Let’s take a look at some of the medical conditions that can prevent you from flying.

Flying an aircraft not only requires good skills but also excellent health. If you have been looking to get a pilot licence, it would be a good idea to first go through a list of disqualifiers that can either make it harder or impossible for you to get a licence.

The CAA has outlined strict guidelines related to health and expects all pilots to carry a valid medical certificate. This certificate is mandatory for all types of pilots and crucial in keeping the skies safe for everyone.

Let’s take a look at some of the medical conditions that can prevent you from flying:


Heart Health

Pilots undergo several stress tests that are designed to put a reasonable strain on the heart. The purpose of these tests is to see if the pilots are operating at optimal health.

There are numerous heart conditions and while some of them can make it harder for pilots to get a licence, the majority of heart conditions can be grounds for immediate disqualification. For example, a pilot who has recently had a heart attack will be subject to more frequent medical examinations and if their condition isn’t stable enough, then their licence privileges will likely be revoked.

The CAA looks at every health-related case individually and the pilot’s entire health history will be taken into account. In some cases, if the pilot submits a detailed report about their health history and treatment plans, then they may be allowed to continue to fly so long as they are in stable condition, but they will still be subject to frequent tests. Common conditions such as high blood pressure, benign heart murmurs, corrected congenital heart defects, and even certain types of arrhythmias are not always grounds for disqualification.

In these cases, the CAA will carefully investigate each case to see the severity of the disease and the success of the treatment plan to determine whether the pilot can fly.


Diabetes is a condition that can cause a range of symptoms affecting a pilot’s ability to fly an aircraft, and while people suffering from diabetes may be able to fly, there are certain conditions laid out by the CAA to ensure maximum safety.

Pilots with uncontrolled diabetes are subject to disqualification due to the severity and nature of their disease. In many cases, a pilot that has had a hypoglycaemic episode in the last 6 months will not be issued a licence, especially if they aren’t getting treatment for their condition.

The CAA scrutinises such cases individually and takes into account the full medical history of the pilot. If the pilot has been receiving proper treatment through a general practitioner, then the CAA may also ask for a support letter.

If allowed to fly, the pilot will need to have a valid blood sugar monitoring device and a valid medical certificate. They may also be required to prove that they can handle their blood sugar levels during a flight to be eligible to fly.


Pilots suffering from epilepsy are not allowed to fly due to the nature of the disease. To maintain the safety of the pilot and the crew, the CAA mandates that pilots with a history of epilepsy disclose their ailment to the CAA.

Even with treatment, if a pilot has had a history of suffering from epilepsy, they will be disqualified due to the strict standards set by the CAA. Apart from this, the pilot will also not be issued a valid medical certificate which is mandatory to fly any type of aircraft.


The CAA states that pilots with a recent cancer diagnosis must disclose the details of their illness in order to determine the status of their licence.

In most cases, the CAA will investigate such conditions on a case-by-case basis where the complete medical history of the pilot will be taken into account. Depending on the stage of cancer and ongoing treatment, a pilot suffering from cancer may still be allowed to fly if they can prove that their condition is stable and that the cancer is in remission.

Such individuals will also be subject to more frequent screenings and will, in either case, require a valid medical certificate to fly any type of aircraft. It is important to note that due to the nature of this disease and its treatment, pilots that are undergoing radiation therapy or with intracerebral malignancies will not be allowed to fly until their condition is stable.

Also, in the case of skin malignancies, pilots may still be fit to fly so long as they can prove that their condition is being treated and that they are in remission.

Vision or Hearing Impairments

Not only are pilots required to have excellent vision or hearing but they must also meet or exceed the standards set by the CAA in order to obtain a valid medical certificate.

While pilots with minor vision or hearing impairments may still be allowed to fly, personnel who suffer from colour blindness or any disease related to vision or hearing may not be granted a licence.

The CAA has highlighted guidelines that need to be followed to minimise the risks from vision or hearing impairments where pilots are required to wear corrective lenses or hearing aids that do not hinder the pilot’s ability to fly.

Pilots are required to disclose their disabilities to the CAA so that they are guided on how to overcome them. The CAA will look at each case and will determine the right way forward for the pilot and will grant a valid medical certificate once the pilot meets the required standards and guidelines.

Mental Health

Just as with physical health, the CAA has strict standards when it comes to the mental health of pilots.

A pilot’s job is to maintain safety and display professionalism at all times, which is why they need to be fully conscious and aware of their surroundings. While mental health issues aren’t grounds for immediate disqualification, in some severe cases, the CAA can revoke the medical certificate of the pilot, especially if their condition has been declining.

Certain mental conditions such as severe depression or suicidal ideation can result in disqualification but if the pilot has been receiving treatment with positive results, then they may still be allowed to fly. In any case of mental illness, the CAA will look into the matter individually and assess the pilot’s profile using a risk assessment which will include their treatment plan, medication, side effects of the medications, and any past or recent episodes, before granting a valid medical certificate.

Immunocompromised Conditions

Immunocompromised Conditions that include HIV, cancer, organ transplant etc. warrant a strict medical check-up. Pilots suffering from such diseases will need to disclose their condition to the CAA so that their case can be determined.

The CAA highlights that while pilots with HIV can still fly, they will likely have restrictions and conditions that include regular check-ups or be restricted to only certain flight duties. Pilots will also be required to submit their treatment plan, medication, and past or recent flare-ups of the disease.

A CAA-certified medical examiner will assess the case of the pilot and will determine whether they are fit to fly. In the case of severe disease or declining health despite treatment, the pilot may not be granted a valid medical certificate.


The CAA highlights that pregnant pilots can indeed fly until their 28th week of pregnancy. Pilots will have to submit a detailed report of their health and their case will be dealt with individually. Additionally, a pregnant pilot will not be allowed to fly 4 weeks before their delivery date.

To ensure the safety of the pilot, crew, and baby, the CAA may ask for frequent medical checks by a CAA-certified practitioner. If the pilot is unfit or if further flying is deemed risky, then the CAA will not grant a valid medical certificate.

Skin Conditions

While minor skin conditions don’t warrant disqualification, pilots suffering from severe or uncontrolled skin diseases such as eczema or psoriasis may not be allowed to fly until they can prove that their condition is stable.

In such cases, the pilot will be asked to undergo treatment and may also be subject to frequent medical checks. The CAA may also ask for a detailed report of the pilot’s medication and treatment plan to assess the risk of side effects and to ensure that the pilot’s condition doesn’t hinder their ability to fly.

If the skin condition has worsened or if the pilot doesn’t respond well to treatment, then the CAA may either temporarily or permanently revoke licence privileges.

Pilots who have recently been diagnosed with skin conditions may not immediately be disqualified and will likely be put under observation. In this case, the pilot will have to undergo treatment and medical tests to prove that their condition is stable or manageable.

Substance Abuse or Addiction

The CAA has strict guidelines for pilots with addiction or a history of substance abuse. In most cases, pilots will have to submit a detailed history of their addiction and will have to undergo several medical evaluations.

If the evaluation reveals that the pilot has a risk of relapsing, they will not be granted a valid medical certificate and will not be allowed to fly. If the pilot does undergo treatment, they will not be allowed to fly for at least 12 months after completing treatment.

Once the minimum 12-month time has elapsed, the pilot will have to prove their abilities and demonstrate that they can indeed easily operate an aircraft.

As mentioned, if the pilot relapses after completing their treatment, then the CAA may either temporarily or permanently ground the pilot after scrutinising their history of substance abuse and overall health profile.

Infectious Diseases

If the pilot shows signs of active disease, they may not be fit for flying. In this case, the CAA will ask for a full workup of the pilot to determine their overall health.

If the medical results show a serious active and infectious disease such as Hepatitis A, then the pilot will not be granted a valid medical certificate until they fully recover from the disease.

The CAA will also likely ask for a detailed report that includes medication, disease progression, active symptoms, liver function, and even an ultrasound of the liver, if necessary. The same can also be said for other infectious diseases like Hepatitis B and C.

Pilots who receive a vaccine may still be allowed to fly so long as they do not develop any side effects 12 hours after receiving the vaccine. If the pilot does show signs of fever or any other related side effect then they will not be allowed to fly until they feel better and go through a series of medical tests.

In the case of malaria, the CAA provides a detailed outline of the dos and don’ts for pilots travelling from the UK to tropical areas. If the pilot does contract the disease, then they will not be allowed to fly until they prove that they do not have an active infection.

Gastrointestinal Diseases and Conditions

Pilots who have recently undergone abdominal surgery will not be allowed to fly until they can prove that they have fully recovered. A CAA-certified examiner will carefully look at such cases and determine whether the pilot is fit to sit for a long period with ease.

There are multiple guidelines and timelines for different types of surgeries, but in most cases, a recovery time of a few months is required before a pilot can resume their flight duties.

If the pilot is suffering from gastrointestinal diseases or other autoimmune conditions related to the gut, they might not be allowed to fly until they can prove that their condition is stable.

The severity of the disease, whether chronic or acute, will be a determining factor when granting a valid medical certificate.

The pilot will have to go through regular check-ups and share their treatment plan, along with details on the type of medication they are taking to the CAA. A medical examiner will judge such a case individually and advise whether the pilot should remain grounded or be allowed to fly.


There are primarily two types of pilot medical certificates and Sherburn Aeroclub is more than equipped to help you acquire any type of medical licence.

Class 1 Medical Certificate

(Validity: 1 Year or 6 Months if over 60 years of age)

This certificate is awarded to professional pilots with a CPL. The CAA outlines pilots who wish to regularly fly large aircraft in a professional capacity. The Class 1 Medical certificate is pricier than other types of certificates and requires an in-depth health profile of the pilot.  

Class 2 Medical Certificate

(Validity: 5 Years)

A Class 2 medical certificate is perfect for people who wish to take up flying as a hobby. This medical licence requires less-intense check-ups and is also cheaper than Class 1 certificates, but is only applicable for non-commercial flying. It’s the perfect solution for private pilots looking to take up aviation for recreational reasons only.


At Sherburn Aeroclub, we pride ourselves on providing testing facilities that either meet or exceed the high standards set by the CAA. Potential candidates looking to step into the world of aviation can begin their journey with us through our extensive medical check-up services.

Our services include:

  • Medical History
  • Eyesight Test
  • Colour Vision test
  • Physical Examination
  • Hearing test
  • Lung health assessment
  • Heart health assessment
  • Blood test
  • Urine test
  • Psychological evaluation


If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licences, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.

Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.

With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand-new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.

Sherburn offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.

For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran.

The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation in the long run.

In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on pilot medicals.


Photo by Gary Lopater on Unsplash 



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