All pilot licences require a medical certificate or medical declaration. You’re allowed to have trial flights and initial lessons prior to completing your medical. But if you intend on committing to a full training programme then it’s wise to have your medical check done beforehand.
Introduction to Flight Medical Requirements
The medical certificate is not a requirement to fly with an instructor, as they are essentially the captain. But it is a requirement to fly solo. This will be needed from around the 15 hours mark onwards.
Pilots training for the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) can self-declare their medical fitness in their application rather than having to visit a GP or AME. Visit the CAA page to find more information on where to apply for one.
I recommend taking a medical before undertaking any training. This avoids the potential disappointment from not being able to meet the required fitness or health levels for flying.
The basic concerns of the Medical are as follows:
- Vision: Pilots must be able to see. Standard requirements do however allow you to wear glasses or contact lenses.
- Asthma: If you have asthma then you may need to take some additional tests. If your asthma is well controlled it isn’t usually a problem.
- High blood pressure: Whilst this is a concern, modern blood pressure medication can be used. In most cases this is sufficient.
An aeromedical examiner (AME) is qualified to offer you advice and to issue you with a medical certificate following an examination. AMEs are based all over the UK. Find your nearest one using the CAA Find an AME Service.
Medical Requirements for Different Types of Aircraft
Depending on the aircraft, the type of flying and your general medical fitness, there are different requirements. The following information comes from the CAA website:
► EASA Aircrafts
To fly EASA aircrafts (for example common general aviation (GA) types such as Cessna 152 or Piper PA28) on a Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL), you need an internationally recognised Class 2 medical certificate obtained from an aeromedical examiner (AME).
Alternatively, if you just want to fly within the privileges of a Light Aircraft Pilot’s Licence (LAPL), a LAPL medical certificate is required. This less stringent assessment is conducted by your GP or an AME. The LAPL medical certificate is valid throughout the EU.
► Non-EASA Aircrafts
To fly non-EASA aircrafts — for example amateur built or microlight aircraft — you use the same medical certificates you would for EASA aircrafts. Alternatively you may declare your medical fitness to the CAA (subject to certain conditions) by completing a Pilot’s Medical Declaration. This Declaration is only be valid for non-EASA aircrafts, for use within UK airspace.
Classes of Medical Certificate
We’ve established that are two main types of aviation medical — Class 1 and Class 2. Here’s the difference.
► Class 1 Medical
If you are considering flying commercially in the future then a Class 2 medical is essential. But if you are purely looking to fly for pleasure and only plan on completing the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), then a Class 1 is not at all necessary.
► Class 2 Medical
A Class 2 medical is the level below a Class 1 and still requires an AME (Aero Medical examiner) to check you out before issuing the certificate. This medical, like the Class 1, includes an EPG.
A Class 2 medical is usually around 1/3 the price of a Class 1. This is completed locally, or at the CAA medical facility in Gatwick Airport. You cannot obtain your Private Pilot Licence (PPL) without this certificate.
If you fail the Class 2 medical, then you're still able to obtain a LAPL. This assumes you're able to pass the LAPL medical, though.