Getting Your First-Class Airman Medical Certificate
There are a number of requirements for becoming an airline pilot, and one of those is obtaining and maintaining a first-class airman medical certificate for any pilot who wants to exercise ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) privileges such as flying scheduled airliners. Anyone looking to become an AeroGuard Cadet and flying for their career needs to be ready to meet these medical requirements in the future.
This time on the AeroGuard blog we want to dive deeper, looking at those requirements for the first-class airman specifically. We’re not doctors here so forgive the jargon, we’re doing our best! You should be able to read through these requirements and have a good idea if becoming an airline transport pilot is possible in your future.
First-Class Airman Medical Certificate Requirements
As to be expected, there are a number of vision requirements for receiving a first-class airman certificate. Being an airline pilot requires excellent vision in a variety of standards.
Distant Vision: 20/20 in each eye, with or without correction.
Intermediate Vision: (50 years and older) 20/40 with or without correction.
Near Vision: 20/40 in each eye, with or without correction.
Color Vision: The necessary colors for the safe performance of duties.
‘With or without correction’ means glasses or contact lenses that bring your vision to the 20/20 standard if necessary. There are some caveats to correction to be aware of. For instance, certain contact lenses, known as monovision contact lenses, are not an acceptable form of correction for piloting per the FAA. Monovision lenses have one lens crafted for near vision, while the other is made to help distant vision. The effect is that depth perception and binocular vision are impaired.
Vision corrective surgeries also need to be looked at closely. Procedures such as LASIK can result in effects that are not compatible with duties in flight including night-glare, haziness, a worsening of sight and corneal scarring. It isn’t a guaranteed outcome, so if a pilot does get surgery done for vision correction it is imperative that they ensure their vision has not suffered.
A person is required to demonstrate the ability to hear an average conversational voice in a quiet room at a distance of 6 feet and understand speech at an acceptable level (determined by an audiometry test).
Nose, Throat, Equilibrium
You might be surprised to find out that there are health requirements for your nose and throat. Any first-class airman cannot have any diseases or conditions of middle or internal ear, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx or nose that is aggravated by flying or interferes with the ability to effectively communicate clearly and absolutely no disease or condition that may manifest in vertigo or disturbances of equilibrium.
Flight can cause those shifts in altitude and equilibrium. If you’re already susceptible to it, it can cause significant problems and be downright dangerous to the pilots and the plane as a whole.
Mental & Neurological
There are a number of mental standards for the first-class airman medical certificate. No history of a personality disorder that is severe and repeatedly manifests, ‘a psychosis,’ bipolar disorder, substance dependence (of any substance other than tobacco or caffeine beverages) and more. Speaking with an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) will give you more details and answer further questions.
The neurological standards require that a first-class airman has no history of epilepsy, a ‘disturbance of consciousness without satisfactory medical explanation,’ seizures or loss of control of the nervous system (again without ‘satisfactory medical explanation’) or any other disorder that makes the person unable to safely perform the duties required of them.
No history of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, cardiac valve replacement, coronary heart disease or heart replacement.
If you have no history of any of this, great! Just make sure you keep taking care of your heart and body. When you are ready to get that first-class airman’s medical certificate, you can use the FAA website and locate the nearest AME near you.