In order to step into the world of aviation, you must first ensure that you are physically fit to do so. That’s where medical certificates come in.
To become a pilot, loving the skies just isn’t enough. A pilot licence is necessary for you to obtain if you wish to fulfil your dreams of flying across the sky. The main aim of the licence is to ensure that you will not be a danger to others or yourself while piloting an aircraft because aviation is a risky business.
While theoretical and practical exams are a great way to assess your knowledge and skills when it comes to flying, another very important part of the process is ensuring that you are in the right physical state to take off. In order to step into the world of aviation, you must first ensure that you are physically fit to do so. That’s where medical certificates come in.
It’s always best to get a thorough check-up before you begin your aviation journey to make sure any health issues don’t end up becoming roadblocks for you down the line.
If you are someone who suffers from breathing difficulties or has issues when it comes to colour vision, aviation may not be for you. It is best to rule out the obvious causes of disqualification before investing the time and money into learning how to fly.
TYPES OF MEDICAL CERTIFICATES
Different types of medical certificates are required for varying types of licences. To make sure what type of certificate you need, you’ll have to narrow down what exactly it is that you wish to do when it comes to aviation, and then schedule a pilot medical check-up accordingly.
The validity period of these different licences varies, and so does the level of stringency when it comes to assessing your health. The cost of these certificates also ranges from relatively low to high, with the stricter ones generally costing a higher amount of money.
When it comes to medical certificates, Class 1 comes out on top. This is mainly because the Class 1 medical certificate is what you will need if you wish to take to the skies in a professional capacity.
This one is pricier as compared to the others but also opens far more doors as compared to the lower-level certificates.
Class 1 certificates are necessary for all those aspiring pilots who hold a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) (with the exception of those issued for balloons), Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), which is necessary for all those wishing to fly with a commercial airline, Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL) with an aeroplane rating, Flight Engineer Licence, as well as Student Flight Engineer Licence.
Class 2 medical certificates are great for those who wish to take to the skies for nothing more than recreation. The requirements for this medical certificate are relatively relaxed as compared to Class 1. This is a great option for those who want to keep aviation a hobby. However, for those who dream of being commercial pilots eventually, it’s a good idea to get the Class 1 from the get-go
While the cost for the Class 2 is relatively lower, it doesn’t open as many doors as the Class 1. In fact, even a student pilot requires a Class 1 medical certificate in order to fly solo.
Keep in mind that if you wish to obtain a PPL with an instrument rating (IR), you’ll need to undergo hearing tests in line with Class 1.
While a Class 1 medical is generally valid for one year, the validity drops to six months if you are either 60 years or older, or if you are 40 or above and carry out single-pilot commercial air transport operations.
The validity of the Class 2 medical also depends on how old you are at the time of examination. If you are under 40 years of age, your certificate will last for 60 months. However, if you are issued with a Class 2 medical before the time you turn 40, it won’t be valid once you turn 42.
If you are between the ages of 40 and 50, the certificate will be valid for two years, and if you are over 50, your certificate will only be valid for one year.
WHAT TO EXPECT
It is very important for you to have complete documentation of your medical history. A record of vaccinations, as well as that of any prior illnesses, should be presented to your Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).
This is the time you should make your AME aware of any illnesses that might run in the family, or if you’ve ever been on certain medication. It is important for you to clearly share all of this information since it can be crucial to determining whether you are fit to fly or not. If there is a chance you may develop a certain genetic condition in the future, your AME should be aware of it.
If you are going to be flying in the sky, you must be able to clearly see all that is in front of you. A thorough eye exam is necessary before you are allowed to take off, since the slightest vision-related error may cause a huge amount of damage when you are in the cockpit of an aircraft.
For the safety of yourself and everyone around you, it is necessary that you can see as clearly as an individual with perfect vision. Your AME will test your eyes, along with any visual aids that you use, to ensure your eyesight isn’t too bad and that you can see clearly with your glasses/contacts. Pupil reaction to light will also be monitored.
Colour Vision test
When it comes to flying, you need to be able to distinguish different colours so that you can identify objects with ease. Due to this, your AME will perform an additional colour vision assessment along with your eye exam.
Firstly, your colour perception will be tested by asking you to distinguish between different colours, after which you will be required to take the Ishihara test. The test consists of 24 colour plates and is considered clear if a person can identify the first 15 colours presented with ease. Those who are unable to identify the colours during the assessment will be deemed unfit and will not be able to get a pilot licence.
Physical Examination (100)
Different AME have different ways of performing a physical exam. This will include a thorough check-up of all your vitals, your height and weight will be recorded, as well as physical features such as eye and hair colour.
In addition to this, your pulse rate and rhythm will also be monitored to make sure your heart is healthy and working well. An ear, nose and throat check-up is done, with the doctor peering into your nose and ears and moving the neck to ensure there are no obstructions when it comes to movement. An examination of the thyroid gland is also common while assessing the neck.
The AME may examine your abdominal area to check for any warning signs of gastric or other organ-related issues. The reflexes are also checked to make sure you are neurologically well.
Hearing test (100)
A speech-based hearing test may be administered by the AME to ensure your ability to hear correctly. The AME may ask you to digitally occlude a single ear, testing them one at a time.
If you are an aspiring pilot, you should not have hearing loss of more than 35dB at 500Hz, 1000Hz or 2000Hz, or more than 50dB at 3000Hz in each ear separately. If a person wears hearing aids, the test is performed without them. If the person with slight hearing loss fails to clear the test without the aids, the test is repeated with them in place, however, the presence of the hearing aid must be recorded.
Lung health assessment (100)
Flying involves heights, which aren’t always good news for people who suffer from breathing issues such as asthma. The pressure changes in the air can trigger existing breathing issues and, if too severe, can become a cause for disqualification.
The AME will test your ability to rapidly expel air from your lungs, which may be difficult for those suffering from breathing issues. Those with abnormal lung function will require reports from a specialist to ensure their fitness level for flight.
Heart health assessment (100)
A healthy heart is very important for a pilot and a thorough cardiovascular assessment will be performed by your AME. Your heart health will be monitored through an Electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the electrical impulses passing through your heart to detect any cardiovascular issues.
It is also very important to ensure that you do not have high levels of cholesterol, since this may lead to arterial blockages and possible heart attacks. Any individual who has an increased risk of heart failure will not be declared fit enough to pilot an aircraft.
Blood test (100)
This one’s a given since blood tests will help detect any potential illnesses that are lurking just beneath the surface. Blood work can help the AME look for any infectious diseases that may be circulating your system. Haemoglobin levels are also checked in order to ensure you are not suffering from anaemia.
Thorough blood tests can also help pinpoint any nutritional deficiencies and rule out the possibilities of chronic health issues. They can also help shed light on your cholesterol levels, ultimately reflecting on your heart health.
Urine test (100)
Your urine holds the key to your health! You will be asked to provide a urine sample, which will then be evaluated to rule out the possibility of diabetes since the test will assess the glucose present in it.
Other than this, the test will also help determine the situation of your kidneys, since it measures the amount of protein present as well. Protein in the urine usually means your kidneys aren’t doing so well and that you need to take care of them. The test will also help clear any doubts about possible urinary tract infections that are yet to fully surface so that they can be treated promptly before you venture into the sky.
Psychological evaluation (100)
This is perhaps one of the most important parts of your medical evaluation. In addition to physical fitness, it is imperative that your mind is in a healthy state. Flying is a nerve-wracking and stressful business, and you need to be calm and collected in order to operate an aircraft, especially if it’s carrying other people along with you.
Your AME may inquire about your mental health in the past, asking about sleep patterns and alcohol use to get a better idea of your psychiatric history. The doctor will remain vigilant for any signs of drug or alcohol abuse, and will also closely monitor your mood, speech, cognition, thinking, perception and insight.
Quick thinking and clear-headedness are the key to a successful piloting career and are necessary if you wish to fly an aircraft.
HOW TO PREPARE
Most people are terrified of white coats, but rest assured, if you are a healthy individual who takes care of themselves, most of these assessments will be a breeze! While certain issues such as those related to colour vision are unfortunately out of your hands, others such as controlled cholesterol levels and a healthy mind can be achieved.
It is also important to remember that those applying for a Class 2 medical certificate will not be subject to checking that is too stringent as compared to those opting for Class 1. For example, cholesterol checks are not required for basic Class 2 medicals.
Make sure you go to the AME office with a full bladder, since you will be expected to give in a sample, and make sure to take any hearing or visual aids you use along. These will be needed when making vision and hearing assessments.
The initial Class 2 medical costs approximately £620, while the initial Class 1 costs £225.
WHY CHOOSE SHERBURN AERO CLUB
Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn offers pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.
You are required to take medical exams to prove you are fit enough to take to the skies when applying for a licence, and the facility at Sherburn allows you to start your aviation journey on the right foot. Our in-house AME, Dr Mark Bellamy, is rated to perform EASA Class 2 and LAPL. He also holds a fixed-wing PPL. Appointments are available every Monday and Tuesday, as well as occasional Saturdays.
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. We offer dedicated CPL training as well as comprehensive PPL (A) training and the required experience for operating aircraft at night.
In addition to this, the club also offers simulators for various training needs and to help new pilots gain confidence before the real deal. 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 for the long run.
Call us on 01977 682 674, email us at email@example.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on pilot medicals, and contact Dr Mark Bellamy by email or telephone 07747 057574 for appointments!