Are you considering becoming a licensed pilot? While the idea of taking to the skies can be exciting, it’s important to understand that certain medical conditions could prevent you from achieving your goal. In this blog post, we’ll review some of these potentially disqualifying health issues, and what steps potential pilots should take before applying for a license. Read on to discover what medical conditions can affect your ability to become a certified pilot.
Understand the FAA’s Medical Standards for Pilots
Before beginning any career as a pilot, it is essential to understand the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) medical standards for pilots. The FAA has specific medical requirements that all pilots must meet to be eligible for flight. These requirements cover a wide range of health factors, including
- Cardiovascular health
- Mental health
Aviation medical examiners are responsible for conducting medical examinations and assessing whether a pilot meets physical and mental health standards. If a pilot fails to meet these requirements, they may not be eligible to fly due to safety concerns.
Physical and Mental Conditions Which Could Impact Flight Safety
When it comes to flight safety, physical and mental conditions cannot be overlooked. Certain disqualifying medical conditions, such as angina pectoris (reduced blood flow to the heart), can hinder a pilot’s ability to be in peak physical condition and have the mental clarity needed to make the split-second decisions required when flying a plane.
Heart Conditions that Prevent Pilots from Flying
The heart can be put under a lot of stress when flying a plane full of crew and passengers. Several heart conditions will disqualify a pilot from earning a license or continuing to fly.
- Cardiac valve replacement
- Coronary artery disease
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Heart replacement
If you’re already a pilot and experience some of these heart problems, they can often be addressed on a case by case basis. You’ll be monitored more extensively if you experience a heart attack when currently licensed, and flying privileges will only be revoked if it’s deemed too risky.
Other Health Conditions that May Disqualify Perspective Pilots
While it’s fine for passengers with diabetes to fly, having diabetes can prevent you from qualifying to become a pilot. Standard practice is to disqualify a person from licensing if they’ve had a hypoglycemic episode in the last six months, or if they’re not properly treating their diabetes.
Because of epilepsy’s unpredictable nature, anyone living with this condition is excluded from obtaining a pilot’s license.
Mental Illness that May Disqualify Perspective Pilots
It’s not just physical conditions that can pose a risk, however. Mental health is just as crucial, as depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders can also impact a pilot’s ability to function properly during a flight, leading to potential safety hazards. If you have a history of the following, you may be ineligible to earn a pilot’s license:
- Bipolar disease
- Personality disorder
- Substance abuse or dependence
The Effects of Medication on Flying Ability
With the use of medication, pilots and passengers alike may worry about the side effects that such drugs can have on their flying ability. It’s important to consider the impact of medication before taking to the skies to ensure a safe and comfortable flight for all involved. While some medications may have minimal impact, others may cause drowsiness, impaired vision, or other side effects that could compromise a pilot’s ability to fly safely.
Vision Requirements for Perspective Pilots
According to the FAA, pilots must have uncorrected vision that is at least 20/70 in each eye and correctable vision that is 20/20 or better. This means that pilots must have the ability to see clearly and accurately from a distance and up close. In addition to meeting the minimum vision requirements, pilots must also have the ability to distinguish colors and have good depth perception.
These strict standards ensure that pilots can effectively navigate any type of weather condition and land safely, even in low visibility situations. The importance of vision requirements for pilots cannot be overstated, as they are the first line of defense in keeping the skies safe for all.
Understand Hearing and Balance Requirements for Pilots
Pilots must undergo regular hearing and balance examinations to ensure they can distinguish crucial aircraft noises and maintain their equilibrium during flight. These exams help to ensure pilots can detect potential problems with their hearing and balance before they pose a threat to them or their passengers. They also must be able to hear well enough to communicate with crew members on board the craft, and team members in the flight tower. If you can’t pass a hearing test as dictated by the FAA medical examiner, you can’t earn a pilot’s license.
Earning a pilot’s license is a big responsibility and requires rigorous safety standards to be met not just for the wellbeing of the crew and passengers, but the pilot as well. Before investing time and money in flight training, familiarize yourself with the physical and mental health requirements and get your medical screening first thing.
If you have questions about the steps to enrollment at FLT Academy, you can find a guide here:
We look forward to meeting with you and answering any questions you have about financing, medical certificates, and the paperwork required to apply to our flight school.