What if you don’t pass a pilot medical first time?

There are two types of medical examination for pilots: Class 1 and Class 2. Pilots wishing to operate for recreational purposes and have no intention of flying commercially can obtain a Class 2 medical, which is valid for five years.  

For those pilots who wish to fly commercially, a Class 1 is mandatory and is a more thorough medical than the Class 2. It will need to be renewed every 12 months up until the age of 40 and then every six months after turning 40. Renewing Class 1 medicals can only continue up to the age of 65.

But what happens if you don’t pass the medical or if you are referred to a doctor for more investigations? 

There are a few conditions that can make gaining a medical certificate more difficult, or can mean that you may be denied a pass. 

Certain heart conditions, diabetes that requires regular medication, personality disorders, epilepsy, illnesses affecting consciousness and substance abuse or dependence are some of the main circumstances in which pilots could be denied a medical certificate. 

If any irregularities or issues arise during your medical examination, the seriousness of them and the likelihood of it affecting your career will be assessed and could be referred to specialists.  

It’s not necessarily the end of your career path, but you should be prepared to face further examinations. 

If you have a pre-existing condition that you are aware of, you should talk to medical professionals and relevant aviation authorities for the country you are in. You may also be able to seek advice from others who have been in your situation to find out how they continued their path to becoming a pilot. 

Some conditions that can be controlled and will not affect your day-to-day abilities as a pilot may not inhibit your long term career, but there could be limits put on to work you are allowed to carry out. 

If you are found to have a medical condition that will still allow you to fly, you could be required to keep local aviation authorities up to date with any changes. 

The best advice to follow is to have your medical completed before you enroll in any pilot schools or courses. That way you will know if there are any additional plans you need to put in place to cover any medical issues, and you will not have already paid for your course to start. 

It’s important to remember not to completely lose heart if anything negative does show up – there are deferrals, reviews and insurances that can work in your favour, but as always, it’s crucial to do your research before embarking on your career journey. 
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