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Piloting Career With History Of Psychosis

Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:52 pm

Hello all,

I am asking this question on behalf of a friend who is currently in high school but has been 100% set on a career as an airline pilot since before he can remember. Only problem is that he has recently been diagnosed with an episode of psychosis for which he is on medication which keeps it under control very nicely. Suppose his question is how would this medical history affect any career in aviation? He fears any previous psychotic episode whether or not it is controlled by medication would make him unsuitable for his dream job.

Kind regards

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RE: Piloting Career With History Of Psychosis

Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:59 pm

I'm assuming your friend lives in the UK. I have some experience with the process for this sort of stuff in the US (though my situation was more minor than your friend's), but I don't know a whole lot about the process in the UK.

But, nevertheless, he needs to talk to someone who knows the rules and policies on that sort of stuff very well and knows how to get people with certain issues certified. Don't just look up the examination policy and think that's it - I did that and I still ran into problems (apparently, the criteria listed in the FAA Aviation Medical Examiner's Guide aren't the criteria that are actually used).

These sorts of things may not be insurmountable. In the US, for instance, depending on what medication he's on, he may be good to fly so long as the medication is effective, and there are no adverse side effects over a certain period of time (this part actually works in his favor - since he hasn't started training yet, he won't have to ground himself for a while to make sure nothing bad happens, as opposed to someone who is flying now who would). But that's the US - the UK may be different.

So, find someone who knows the ins and outs of the certification process (preferably not someone directly associated with the CAA), and they'll be able to tell you much more about whether this can be overcome. And if your friend can somehow get off the medication, that will make things far easier (though he definitely shouldn't do it at the expense of his mental well-being - no career is worth that).

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RE: Piloting Career With History Of Psychosis

Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:56 pm

Quoting egph (Thread starter):

The medication I am afraid is only part of it. If they have an established history, or clinical diagnosis, of schizophrenia, schizotypal or delusional disorder, they will be disqualified under the UK CAA rules to be fit to fly.

If this is not the case, any psychiatric disorder requiring psychotropic medication requires clearance from the CAA, generally speaking they will want th pilot to be off all psychotropic medication for a period of time (1-2years) without any recurrences.

They will generally allow a pilot to be on medication for depression.

The medical standards vary from country to country, if you want to know exactly what the UK CAAs position will be, the only way to find out into contact them, these sort of assessments are made on a case by case basis.

A curbside consultation on an anonymous forum will not in my view get you any worthwhile information, I would get your friend to go to a designated aviation medical examiner (they are listed on the UK CAA website) with their parent/guardian, and get the AME to do an examination and follow up with the CAA.

Better to spend £100-200 now, rather than blow £100,000 on training only to find out they cannot hold a class 1 medical. I had similar ambitions when I was at school and did a class1 medical before I did my A levels. I knew then I could work hard to achieve my goals.
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RE: Piloting Career With History Of Psychosis

Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:24 pm

I don't even think you're allowed to drive with those sort of mental issues to be honest.

I'd definitely recommend he sees a CAA medical examiner before he starts spending a load of money. He might qualify for a more restrictive medical certificate that allows him to fly privately but not commercially.
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RE: Piloting Career With History Of Psychosis

Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:35 pm

In the US at least, and I'm sure the regulations in the UK are no different, a diagnosis of psychosis, unless documented to be a result of a transient, toxic nature, will keep your friend on the ground permanently. Psychosis, treated or otherwise, is one of several automatically disqualifying conditions for obtaining or holding an airman medical license, at any class level, and no waivers will be issued. None of the anti-psychotic meds will allow for medical qualification. Currently, there are only four anti-depressant meds that one can actually be taking, and allowed to fly, and you have to jump through major hoops for more than 1 year in order to be granted a special issuance on your license. And even then, you are not permitted to be on any combination of meds - single agent only. Sorry for your friend, the issue is more than his safety in the air, it is the safety and wellbeing of those on the ground. Hope this answers your question.
"Trust, but verify!" An old Russian proverb, quoted often by a modern American hero
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RE: Piloting Career With History Of Psychosis

Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:55 am

Zeke's advice is by far the best found here: nobody on this site is able to assess his condition as well as a CAA medical examiner. Beyond the condition and medical certification issues involved, it is a costly endeavor for anyone to undertake, and there is no guarantee that he will find employment at the end of his journey.

I wish him well, but in practicality am not particularly optimistic that he will find a career in airline flying.
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RE: Piloting Career With History Of Psychosis

Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:37 pm

Hey guys,

Thanks for all your helpful responses, I will pass them on! Let's hope for his sake it is transient

Kind regards


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