PPL(H) – Medical Questions

To be issued with a Private Pilot Licence (Helicopter) PPL(H), you must have passed (and hold) a EASA Class 2 medical examination. [In fact you’ll need this in place before you can do your first solo flight during your training.] This examination is designed to ensure you are fit, have reasonable eyesight and hearing, and have no current or previous illness which might interfere with the safe exercise of the privileges of a private pilot’s licence. [Note: If your long term ambition is to fly commercially (get paid to fly) then it may be worth taking a Class 1 medical examination as it has far higher standards and it is worth ensuring you meet these before spending too much money learning to fly.]

The Class 2 examination is conducted by an approved Aeromedical Examiner(AME).

The initial Class 2 examination will take around an hour and is broken into a number of sections;

Medical History – A general delve into your medical history. Should you have had any major illnesses or operations, or are taking medication, it may be worth having a report from your GP.

Eyesight – The Mark 1 eyeball is our primary flight instrument when it comes to flying VFR helicopters. As such it is important that yours make the grade. If you wear glasses (or contact lenses) it is important to bring them with you and also details of the prescription. If you have had laser eye surgery it is wise to speak to your AME in advance of the medical as further reports will be required. If you are worried as to whether your sight is good enough the CAA have published details of the requirements here.

Hearing – The AME will speak at a distance of about 6 feet behind you in a normal spoken voice. Whilst you normally need to be able to hear what they said in each ear independantly, you can still get a class 2 medical if you can hear in only one ear, and even if you need hearing aids to do so (but further reports will be required). I SAID YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO……..

Physical Examination – A general full body examination checking your ears, nose & throat, chest, abdomen, heart, reflexes, limbs and blood pressure. There is the chance that gentlemen may be asked “to cough” and should you have any “waste disposal” problems you may hear the AME putting rubber gloves on (though intimate examinations are seldom required).

Mental Health – The AME will have a discussion with you around your general mental health. It is essential to realise (and accept) that outside pressures can be a distraction and lower your performance when flying. Other issues such as depression, dyslexia and ADHD may also be discussed.

Lung Function – Tests to measure your peak flow and lung capacity are only required for class 2 medicals if clinically indicated. Asthma suffers, please don’t panic. As long as you can show that your asthma is managed and have no recent hospital admissions due to breathing difficulties a class 2 medical should not prove a problem.

Electrocardiogram – You will be wired to an ECG machine which measures the electrical impulses to the heart. The machine produces a graph (you know the one, big spike, little spike) that tells the AME if your heart has a good rhythm.

Haemoglobin Test – A drop of blood will be taken (generally from a small prick to a finger) and analysed to ensure the blood is capable of carrying enough oxygen. You may also be required to have a fingerprick cholesterol test under certain circumstances.

Urine Test – Make sure you’ve had something to drink as you will be required to pee in a small plastic container. This is then tested for signs of sugar, protein or blood by dipping one of those magic pieces of card in it that then go different colours.

Assuming you have passed with flying coulors, your wallet will be examined to ensure it can cover the examination fee and you will leave with a crisp A4 Class 2 Medical Certificate!

Subsequent medicals happen at defined times dependent on age. Subsequent examinations may contain all the items above, but each has a validity period that is too complex to cover here.

For those wishing to delve further into particular elements of the examination the CAA do have a web page covering each element here.

If you have any concerns about your ability to pass the Class 2 medical please DO NOT ring HeliFly for advice. We are unable to offer medical advice and would suggest you speak with an Aeromedical Examiner.

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