Are There Medical Reasons To Deny A Pilot License? (5 Healthy Thoughts)

Some of the Dr.'s tools of trade
Facemask and Stethoscope

Are you perhaps considering learning to fly or perhaps you wondered, “Are There Medical Reasons To Deny A Pilots License?”

Health is a major issue when it comes to flying so let’s explore the medical requirements for a pilot certificate.

“Are There Medical Reasons To Deny A Pilot License?”

Yes, there are numerous reasons that could be grounds to deny a medical which disqualifies a person from acquiring a private pilot license. (Grounded). However, there are pilot certificates that do not require a person to have a medical.

1. Clearing The Air

It is common to hear people refer to a pilot having a license, but it is not a “license”.

It is a pilot certificate and there are 6 different types of pilot certificates.

The FAA Pilot Certificates are as follows:

  • Student Pilot
  • Sport Pilot
  • Recreational Pilot
  • Private Pilot
  • Commercial Pilot
  • Airline Transport Pilot

In addition, there are three types of medical certificates, third, second, and first.

2. Certificates That Do Not Require a Medical.

Free hot air balloon pilots and Glider pilots are not required to carry a medical certificate while exercising their privileges.

Sport pilots and student pilots seeking a sport pilot certificate do not require a medical certificate either.

All other pilot certificates must be carried along with the appropriate corresponding medical certificate.

3. When Is A Medical Certificate Denied?

The third class medical certificate is really no more than a simple annual medical checkup. The “Ol Doc” just needs to give you a clean bill of health.

Tests are all the essentials like breathing and barring no blood pressure issues they check your eyesight for near or farsightedness, peripheral vision, color blindness, and a hearing test. For candidates over 40 you can expect a bit more scrutiny, like an ECG.

The things that will stop your aviation advancement are problems with any item listed above as well as a few others.

With rare exceptions, any of the above items can be corrected with color blindness being the deal-breaker, unless the color blindness does not affect safety.

I haven’t heard of a fix for that but maybe the world found a way to fix that too. The reason is that on the rare occasion that you have no radio or a radio failure and you must follow light signals from the tower to land.

4. Specifics Of Denial

There are 15 items (here) that can win you a medical denial but all is not lost as many waivers exist to move you past your denial.

These are things like personality disorders that manifest by overt acts, psychosis, alcoholism, drug dependence, epilepsy, unexplained lapses of consciousness, myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, and diabetes requiring medication.

All the rules and issues are best explained by the FAA Bible, the Federal Aviation Regulations that I recommend reading.

You need to know the rules if you are going to be sharing our airspace. Get a copy for your bedtime reading.

You can read the medical language information here. 

There are other items that should be scrutinized by yourself like an acute infection or a peptic ulcer that you are fully aware of that necessarily should be grounding items of your own accord.

You are the first in line to determine if you are in airworthy health. It is the first thing on your checklist.

I’M SAFE, acronym for your personal checklist.


You know the drill. Check yourself first. You are the frontline.

In the event that you find yourself with a medical problem, remember that you may have a medical issue but in many cases, you can acquire a waiver.

5. Types of Waivers

A statement of demonstrated ability or waiver is given by the FAA for pilots with stagnant medical conditions. This is for guys like me with an amputated limb or for someone with one eye. Something that is not getting worse.

These conditions must be reported at each future medical evaluation and if there has been no change then it can be reported” as previously reported” on your current application.

An authorization for special issuance is a temporary flight waiver and its certification is issued to pilots with a problem that is immediately disqualifying.

This issuance is a response to an appeal (FAR 67.401) to the FAA to grant a temporary medical certificate It is discretionary approval for you to exercise your Airman Certificate even though this medical issue could be something that could debilitate another airman and jeaporidize safety.

A special issuance expires at the date of your next flight physical and you may be required to file another appeal.

Just remember that the FAA is the final authority and you may be required to fly with the FAA to prove your competency.

You may also have limitations listed on your medical, like me at my older age, stating that I needed to carry corrective lenses.

Final Thoughts:

It should be very evident that we as airmen are the first line when it comes to our health. We should not place ourselves or others in danger by knowingly operating an aircraft when illness occurs.

If you are a student pilot you can begin lessons without a medical and take lessons up to your first solo but you will need that student pilot certificate, aka, medical certificate to continue lessons.

Why waste the money if you find you are medically unfit to pass a medical exam? Maybe some people do that knowing they can’t pass a medical and just want to fly! There are cheaper ways.

If you are an aspiring Airline Pilot go ahead and apply for a First Class Medical certificate just to be sure you qualify.

Always cover your tracks and be sure that the medicine your family doctor prescribed for your allergy or anything else is OK to fly with.

If you have any doubts ask your doctor or call your Aviation Medical Examiner and be absolutely sure you are good to go.

One question that does come up is about being unsure if you can pass an Aviation Medical Exam.

If you do have doubts, protect yourself before applying for your medical certificate by setting an appointment with a Designated Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) and request a medical evaluation without applying for the medical certificate.

If you pass there is no foul, but if you fail you get strike one from the FAA. And a can of worms is opened.

If your condition is curable then you can return to the Doctor, (AME) and get your medical certificate when your health improves.

You will save yourself a seemingly endless pile of FAA documents by this method.

Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous, but it is totally unforgiving of any inability, incapacity, or neglect. (unk)

Related: “Can a Felon Get a Pilot’s License?” (4 Innocent Facts)

Feel free to comment or ask questions.

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