medical fitness for pilots

Medical fitness needed to be a pilot


Medical fitness has always been the most important aspect of a pilots life. If your not medically fit as per governing authorities in your country, you cannot fly. Its been one of the frequent questions I have been getting from budding pilots.

So basically medicals for pilots is based on 3 things.:

  1. Physical and mental requirements.
  2. Visual requirements.
  3. Hearing requirements.In this article I will be covering the medical fitness and standards needed as per DGCA and FAA.
    On being certified medically fit by a medical practitioner, a class 1 or 2 certificate is awarded.A class 1 medical certificate is required to hold.:

    1. Commercial Pilot’s Licence (Aeroplane & Helicopter).
    2. Senior Commercial Pilot’s Licence (Aeroplane).
    3. Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (Aeroplane & Helicopter).
    4. Flight Navigator’s Licence.
    Student Flight Navigator’s Licence.
    6. Flight Engineer’s Licence.
    7. Student Flight Engineer’s Licence.
    Private Pilot’s Licence (Aeroplane and helicopter) where Instrument Rating .(Aeroplane and Helicopter) privileges are required.

A class 2 medical certificate is required to hold:.

1. Private Pilot’s Licence  (Aeroplane & Helicopter);
2. Pilot’s Licence  (Glider).
3. Pilot’s Licence (Balloons).
4. Pilot’s Licence (Microlight).
5. Student Pilot’s Licence (Aeroplane).
6. Student Pilot’s Licence (Helicopter).
7. Student Pilot’s Licence (Glider).
8. Student Pilot’s Licence (Balloons).
9. Student Pilot’s Licence (Microlight).
10. Flight Radio Telephone Operator’s Licence.
11. Flight Radio Telephone Operator’s Licence (Restricted).

In this article I will only be talking about class 1 medical certificate, as only that means business.

Basic physical requirements to be a pilot

Height: Though theres no real height restrictions laid by the governing bodies, still a minimum of 158 cms is needed by many of the airlines.

BMI: Your BMI should be ideally be less than 25 and within the normal range. If not, many other tests to prove your medical fitness will have to be carried out.

Vision: Contrary to popular belief, you can fly commercial aircraft wearing glasses or contact lenses, as long as your vision is correctable to 6/6.

Hearing: The applicant, when tested on a pure-tone audiometer, shall not have a hearing loss in either ear separately, of more than 35 dB at any of the frequencies 500, 1 000 or 2 000 Hz, or more than 50 dB at 3 000 Hz. 

Mental: The applicant should be mentally fit and shall have no history of mental illness.

Where to get a class 1 medical fitness test done

The class 1 medical fitness tests initially can be done in only 5 selected centres they are:
i) AFCME, New Delhi
ii) IAM, Bangalore
iii) MEC (East), Jorhat
iv) Dr Balabhai Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai
v) Apollo Heart Centre, Chennai

Every 5 yearly renewal or Class I Medical which have lapsed for a period more than two years from the date of Medical Examination and also a medical after a period of unfitness need to be done in the centres i), ii) and iii) given above.

For all the other yearly or half yearly renewals you can consult any other medical practitioner nominated by DGCA. Heres the link with further contacts.

Incase of FAA, a designated Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) must examine you. You must contact an AME of your choosing, schedule an appointment, complete an official FAA application form via MedXPress, and undergo a physical examination by an AME. If you meet the appropriate medical standards, the AME will issue you a medical certificate. You can search for an AME in your area by clicking here.

How to apply for a class 1 medical examination

Fill up the form in the annexure given in this link here and send it on . Be sure, you apply at least 1.5 months before the desired date of your medical. A fee of Rs.3000 incase of initial and Rs.2000 for renewal of DGCA class 1 medicals has to be paid on And the way to go about incase of FAA medical has been already mentioned in the paragraph above.  The fee for FAA first class medicals can cost close to 200 USD.

Tests conducted in a class 1 medical

The tests conducted incase of Class 1 initial medicals are:

1.Blood Hb%, TLC, DLC Blood Sugar F & PP HbA1C.
2. LFT.
3. Blood Urea & Serum Creatinine Serum Uric Acid.
4. Lipid Profile.
5. Urine RE/ME.
6. ECG (R).
7. X-Ray Chest PA View.
8. Pure Tone Audiometry.
9. USG Abdomen & Pelvis.
10. Dilated Fundus Examination.
11. If BMI > 30, Blood Sugar F & 2 hrs after 75 gm glucose.

The tests carried out incase of renewals varies with age and also if you have physical disabilities. Heres the link to tests as per your age.

Incase of FAA medicals it is very much relaxed as compared to DGCA. Only 1/4th of the tests from above will be carried out and within no time you will have a medical certificate.

Time taken

The time taken to carry out a class 1 DGCA medical initial/renewal  can vary alot. As per the website it says 1-3 days, but incase of a disability it can go upto months of investigation. On being declared fit, a temporary certificate of fitness called as the CA-35 will be awarded immediately but the actual certificate will only come after a month or two. Incase of FAA, in my experience it doesn’t take more than an hour.


Finally, the profession of being a pilot also indirectly helps you take care of your health. I hope that I have covered most of the aspects related to pilot medical fitness. Just incase you have a doubt feel free to contact me or you can send me an email on Thankyou for taking out the time to read through this article.

57 thoughts on “Medical fitness needed to be a pilot”

  1. WOW I AM HAPPY TO READ THIS.Can you please ADD ME for you to give more information in being a pilot.THANK YOU

    1. Very good article.

      In my class 2 assessment, it’s mentioned that I need to get my class 1 initial done at IAF center only due to high myopia.

      Is this a matter of serious concern?

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