Before signing up for any kind of pilot training, you should look into passing your initial first class medical examination.

While the thrill of becoming a pilot may be enough to distract you from the finite details, before signing up for any kind of pilot training courses, your first port of call is to pass the initial first class medical examination. Often overlooked as a minor detail, passing the mandatory medical exam is a critical requirement to gaining entry to further your studies and qualify with your private pilot’s license (PPL).

Although a rudimentary requirement, they say the devil is in the detail and this detail is one that no reputable aviation school is prepared to waive. Clearing aspiring pilot students of medical conditions that may inhibit their ability to fulfil critical pilot criteria, passing the first class medical examination is the very first step to achieving your pilot’s license and becoming a successful aircraft pilot.

The mandatory requirements to achieving your Private Pilots License include;

  • Over the age of 17
  • Must speak, read and write English
  • Pass an obligatory medical examination
  • Meet the required theoretical standards with a minimum pass rate of 75%
  • Successfully complete all practical requirements including 45 hours of flight time.

Once certified with a Private Pilot’s License (PPL) as issued by the Civil Aviation Authorities, Private Pilots may then go on to complete a Commercial Pilots licence (CPL), whereby the following set of requisites must be met;

  • Class 1 medical certificate clearance
  • Additional theory examinations
  • Achieve at least 200 hours of flight time including 100 hours as a pilot in command
  • Certification in radiotelephony
  • Accomplish a Night Rating

Medical examination requirements differ across various classes of medical certifications with two (2) different medical examination clearances available. To gain entry into completing a PPL (Private Pilot’s Licence) class 2 medical is performed and once again to further this qualification to become a Commercial Pilot (CPL), students need to gain a clearance of class 1 medical certificates from the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

Applicants are required to be examined by a designated aviation medical examiner approved by the Commissioner for Civil Aviation. Should the exam be endorsed as “Acceptable”, approved certifications will be issued by the designated medical examiner.

Medical Examination includes;

  • Declaration of medical history – past illness, operations, dread disease
  • An eye examination
  • Hearing test
  • Physical Examination
    • Electrocardiogram – ECG to measure heart health
    • Lung Function Test (spirometry)
    • Finger prick Hemoglobin test
    • Finger prick Cholesterol test
    • Chest X-ray
    • Urine Test

Other medical factoids for prospective pilots;

  • Pilots should never fly while suffering from the common cold due to pressure changes, differences in equilibrium and potential for delayed reaction times in case of an emergency.
  • Pilots will be grounded while taking over the counter medications and there is an 8-hour restriction between alcohol consumption and flight time.

With the intent to keep all passengers, crew, ground staff and the skies at large as safe and secure as possible, at the starting block to becoming a certified pilot to take to the skies, your physical and mental health must be in optimal shape.