Becoming a licensed pilot requires much more than a little training and learning how to fly a plane. In addition to extensive hands-on learning, aspiring airplane handlers are put through a series of examinations to test their physical, mental and emotional stability. Established guidelines strictly regulate the disqualifications for a potential pilot, granting a license to only the sharpest and healthiest of prospects.
Eyes, Ears and Equilibrium Standards
Standards slightly vary by rank and age, but entry-level pilots must have 20/20 vision with or without eyeglasses or contact correction. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) stipulates an applicant's necessity to perceive the different colors required for a safe performance of the job's duties. Pilots also have to be able to hear a conversational tone from six feet away with their backs turned. AOPA also states that any condition resulting in vertigo makes an individual ineligible.
A history, or current manifestation, of many cardiovascular dysfunctions will result in automatic dismissal, including myocardial infarction and angina pectoris. Treated coronary heart disease will disqualify an applicant, along with untreated coronary heart disease with a clinical or symptomatic significance. Those who have undergone a heart or cardiac valve replacement surgery are ineligible, along with individuals who have a permanent cardiac pacemaker implant.
Mental and Neurological Regulations
Neurological disqualifications cover epilepsy or another disturbance of one's consciousness, without an explanation of cause. Similarly, several critical mental disorders will label an applicant unable to fly. Any substance abuse or dependence is also grounds for dismissal. Particularly, evidence of any clinical psychosis such as bipolar disorder is unacceptable for pilots. According to AOPA, this includes any severe personality disorder that has continuously manifested itself through overt acts.
General Disqualifying Conditions
There are several other medical conditions that can stop a pilot from getting a license. For example, diabetics requiring insulin or another hypoglycemic drugs do not qualify. Additionally, blood pressure is strictly regulated. Currently, pilots must maintain a maximum blood pressure of 155 over 95. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that pilots can't have any physical handicaps that remotely impair their job performance, as employers often reject those who don't pass physical, aptitude and psychological testing.
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