Are you medically qualified to become a pilot? Let’s take a look at the different levels of medical certification. Understanding the FAA medical requirements for pilots could save you lots of time and money if you are ineligible, in which case you may want to look into the Sport Pilot license. Sport pilot is the only license that can be obtained without a medical certification.
There are three types of medical certification for flying in the U.S.A. The third-class is required for student, recreational, and private pilots, second-class is for commercial pilots, and the first-class medical certificate is required to get an airline transport pilot license. If your ultimate goal is to become a commercial or airline pilot, it may be worth taking the appropriate certification
Vision is the most important sense for a pilot; it allows you to understand your surroundings and avoid collisions. Your vision will be tested for distant vision, near vision, intermediate vision, and color vision. All of the vision requirements allow vision correction such as glasses or contacts, but you will be required to use your vision correction when flying. Your eyesight will be tested for individual eyes.
Distant vision: First and Second-class certificates require 20/20 or better. Third class certificate requires 20/40 or better.
Near vision: All classes require 20/40 or better, measured at a distance of 16 inches.
Intermediate vision: Requires 20/40 or better, measured at a distance of 32 inches. This is required only for First and Second-class certificates.
Color vision: All classes require color vision testing. “Ability to perceive those colors necessary for safe performances of airman duties.”
Again, these are tested in both eyes separately and you are allowed to wear corrective lenses.
All classes are required to take a hearing test. FAA regulations allow the examiner to test this simply in a non-qualitative way or with specific frequencies and volumes. Hearing is very important as a pilot so that you can communicate with the ground.
“Demonstrate hearing of an average conversational voice in a quiet room, using both ears at 6 feet, with the back turned to the examiner or pass one of the audiometric tests below.”
500 Hz- 35 dB in each ear
1000 Hz- 30dB in better ear, 50 dB in worst ear2000 Hz- 30dB in better ear, 50 dB in worst ear
3000 Hz- 40dB in better ear, 60 dB in worst ear
Ears, nose, and throat (ENT): “No ear disease or condition manifested by, or that may reasonably be expected to maintained by, vertigo or a disturbance of speech or equilibrium.”
Electro-cardiogram (ECG) is required only for first-class certificates
Blood Pressure: Guideline maximum of 155/95
Coronary heart disease that has been treated or, if untreated, that has been symptomatic or clinically significant
Cardiac valve replacement
Permanent cardiac pacemaker
severe personality disorders.
Substance dependence and substance abuse
Disturbance of consciousness and without satisfactory explanation of cause
Transient loss of control of nervous system functions without satisfactory explanation of cause
Other disqualifying conditions
Diabetes requiring hypoglycemic medication
If you think that you can pass all of these requirements, there is a good chance that you will be able to pass the medical examination, but there may be other disqualifying factors that are not listed here. Only an Aviation Medical Examiner can tell you for certain whether you are eligible for your pilot license.
This information is intended for educational purposes only. This information can be downloaded as a pdf from the FAA.
FAA medical requirements