Pilots and air traffic controllers with diabetes treated with insulin (and other medications that significantly lower blood glucose), may now be considered for medical certificates by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Until now, only a limited number of medications for the treatment of diabetes have been allowed for pilots and air traffic controllers (ATCOs) applying for Class 1, 2 and 3 medical certificates. However, over recent years there have been advances in the treatment and monitoring of the disease, allowing the control of the condition and any complications to be managed more effectively. As a result, they may now be considered for medical certificates. The decision should allow more licensed pilots and ATCOs, who have diabetes, to continue to undertake operational duties safely.
Individual diabetic applicants who are granted medical certificates under the new protocol will, however, be subject to a rigorous monitoring regime, including demonstrated stability of their condition, and regular blood sample self-testing during flight/duty. This is to ensure that an individual does not begin a flight or shift with too high, or too low, a sugar level, and that a safe level is maintained.
Guidance information will shortly be issued by the CAA to pilots and ATCOs setting out the new procedures to follow. This includes the application of operational restrictions and in-flight testing regimes.
Dr Stuart Mitchell, Head of the Authority Medical Section of the CAA’s Medical Department, said: “This decision will benefit many qualified pilots and air traffic controllers, who are currently restricted to non-operational duties because of their diabetes. With the appropriate level of monitoring to ensure safety standards are met, we believe it is right that these experienced individuals are allowed to contribute their valuable skills and knowledge in their chosen field.”
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