Tag Archives: Airline pilot medical-psychological requirements

Are you fit as a pilot? Some points of view concerning the psychological aspects.

It is up to the Air Medical Examiner to investigate and assess if a pilot or a pilot candidate is really fit for flying. Many AME:s co-operate with experienced aviation psychologists in this matter in Sweden.
The text below is from an informative site from the UK CAA Medical Department about the requirements for the medical certification of aircrew.
Applicants shall have no established psychological deficiencies, which are likely to interfere with the safe exercise of the privileges of the applicable licence(s).
Class 1
(a) Where there is suspicion or established evidence that an applicant has a psychological disorder, the applicant should be referred for psychological opinion and advice.
(b) Established evidence should be verifiable information from an identifiable source which evokes doubts concerning the mental fitness or personality of a particular individual.  Sources for this information can be accidents or incidents, problems in training or proficiency checks, delinquency or knowledge relevant to the safe exercise of the privileges of the applicable licence.
(c) The psychological evaluation may include a collection of biographical data, the administration of aptitude as well as personality tests and psychological interview.
(d) The psychologist should submit a written report to the AME, AeMC or licensing authority as appropriate, detailing his/her opinion and recommendation

Class 2
Applicants with a psychological disorder may need to be referred for psychological or neuropsychiatric opinion and advice.

Examples of special psycho-neurological problems:

Dyslexia is a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010 because it is a long term impairment which can have an adverse effect on an individual’s ability to perform normal day to day activities.  Someone with dyslexia should, therefore, be entitled to reasonable adjustments to enable them to obtain and remain in employment.  However, it can never be considered reasonable to make adjustments that will compromise safety.
Although it is considered reasonable for students of most disciplines to have help from a scribe when writing essays, sitting exams etc. it cannot be considered reasonable for a pilot to have to rely on someone else when reading checklists, weather reports, instrument displays, charts etc. in flight.  Scribes or other aids to word recognition should not be permitted in pilot training for this reason.
Provided a pilot has been able to successfully complete the written work involved in training, he or she will have demonstrated a level of reading and writing ability sufficient to safely pilot an aircraft.  If an applicant for pilot licensing is unable to complete training without assistance with reading and writing there are no reasonable adjustments, with current technology, that can be made to enable him or her to safely fly solo or pursue a career in aviation.

Asperger syndrome
Asperger syndrome is an autistic spectrum disorder characterised by impaired social interaction and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour.  The DSM IV diagnostic criteria also include significant impairment in social or occupational functioning.  Nevertheless, language skills and cognitive development are not impaired and someone diagnosed with Asperger syndrome may be able to acquire the skills necessary to function safely as a pilot or air traffic controller.  Interpersonal difficulties may arise or emerge in the Crew Resource Management environment of the modern professional airline cockpit.  It is, of course, essential that an applicant with Asperger syndrome undergoes assessment by a psychologist with expertise in the condition before embarking on a career in aviation.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD) Disorder
This condition is diagnosed (according to DSM-IV) when an individual demonstrates inattention, hyperactivity or impulsiveness sufficient to cause significant impairment in social, school or work functioning.  The impairment should have appeared before the age of seven years for the diagnosis to be made and may improve with age.
Therefore, anyone applying for pilot licensing who has been diagnosed with this condition must undergo neuropsychological assessment to assess the likelihood of them being able to perform safely as a pilot.  An individual with ongoing ADHD will not (by definition) be able to complete pilot training.  Medication used for this disorder is normally disqualifying.