If you are planning on becoming a pilot in the US or for a US airline, you will need to undergo an FAA class 1 medical to ensure you meet the appropriate medical standards required to pilot a commercial aircraft. A class 1 FAA medical is valid for 6 months, at which time you will need to renew your certificate by undergoing another medical.
A 1st class medical certificate is the highest class of pilot medical available and is required for pilots who will be the pilot-in-command or captain of an aircraft, or for any flight operations where an Air Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate is required, or for pilots operating as second in command on an aircraft that requires three or more pilots.
As you might expect, with this level of responsibility, there are quite strict medical standards that need to be met in order for a pilot to be designated fit to fly and issued with a FAA class 1 medical certificate.
If this is your first pilot medical, or you want to remind yourself of the standards you’ll need to meet, here is a brief overview.
FAA class 1 medical requirements
You will be required to have:
- 20/20 distant vision or better in each eye separately, with or without correction
- 20/40 near vision or better in each eye separately, with or without corrective lenses
- 20/40 intermediate vision or better in each eye separately, with or without correction
- You will also need to be able to perceive the colours necessary to perform your duties
You will need to be able to:
- Hear an average conversational voice in a quiet room, using both ears, at 6 feet with your back turned to the examiner
- You may also need to pass an audiometric speech discrimination test to check your hearing levels at different decibels
Heart, Pulse and Blood Pressure
You will be tested to ensure that:
- Your blood pressure is within the expected range
- You do not have any issues with your pulse
- You can pass an ECG test – this will be tested from the age of 35
Ear, Nose and Throat
Your ears, nose and throat will be examined to ensure that there is no disease or condition that would result in vertigo or any disturbance of the speech or equilibrium.
You will also be asked a series of questions about your current health and fitness and any previous medical conditions to establish that you are not affected by:
- Mental illnesses such as psychosis, bipolar disorder or personality issues
- Substance abuse – including dependence on alcohol or drugs
- Any other illnesses or conditions that may impact your ability to do your job effectively and safely
Class 1 FAA medical disqualifications
There are also a number of disqualifying conditions which would result in the denial or deferrence of the medical certificate. This list includes:
- Diabetes that requires hypoglycemic medication
- Coronary heart disease
- Myocardial infarction
- Cardiac valve replacement or heart replacement
- Personality disorder