What to expect from your pilot medical

If you’re considering a career as a commercial pilot, the first thing you must do is obtain a Class 1 medical certificate. Before paying any money towards a flight training programme, before signing any agreement with an Approved Training Organisation, you need to see if you’re fit to fly. Make it the first step you take.

How do I get my medical?

If you are about to embark on your training, it’s likely that you have not had any kind of pilot medical before. You will first need to book in for an initial medical examination.

The Class 1 initial medical examination under EASA must be carried out at an Aeromedical Centre (AeMC) and you can find all current AeM Centres listed on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

How long does it take?

You can expect the medical examination to take up to four hours, and it examines your medical history, eyesight, general physical check, hearing, heart rhythm, lung function, as well as including blood and urine tests.

A medical certificate is issued on the same day if all required standards are met.  If the required standards are not met or further investigations are necessary before a decision on medical certification is possible this process will take longer.

How old do I need to be?

Applicants for an ATPL licence must be at least 21 years old. An applicant for a Commercial or Multi-Crew Pilots Licence must be at least 18 years old.  A Class 1 Medical Certificate will be required while completing the training for these categories of licence.

Can I fly if I wear glasses?

Contrary to popular belief, you can fly commercial aircraft wearing glasses or contact lenses, as long as your vision is correctable to 20/20.

If you wear glasses or contact lenses it is important to take your last optician’s report along to the examination. A comprehensive visual examination by an eye specialist is required during the initial examination.

The CAA provides guidance on vision standards for pilots who wear glasses and contact lenses.

What do they test?

There will be a series of questions about medical history and any previous illness. If there is any major illness in your past, it is important to bring reports about it from your family doctor or treating specialist.  Appendicitis or a broken arm are not regarded as major illnesses.

Further details of the regulatory requirements can be found on the CAA’s Medical Examination Standards page.

There will also be a general physical exam which will check that your lungs, heart, blood pressure, stomach, limbs and nervous system are functioning correctly.

You can also expect tests to determine your hearing capabilities, an Electrocardiogram (ECG) to measures the electrical impulses passing through your heart, a Lung function test (spirometry), a Haemoglobin blood test and a Urine test – you will be asked to provide a sample of urine, so remember to attend for examination with a full bladder!

What next?

Initial applicant enquiries on fitness for Class 1 medical certification should be made to an Aeromedical Centre. 

Once you have obtained a valid EASA Class 1 medical, you will need to have it revalidated once a year, up until the age of 60 when you will have to revalidate it every six months (or 40 if you are flying Single Pilot commercial air transport passenger operations).


CAA Safety Regulation Group
Aviation House
Gatwick Airport South
West Sussex RH6 0YR
For enquiries and appointments:
Telephone Call Centre +44 (0)1293 573700