7 Physical Requirements For Getting A Private Pilot’s License

If you're considering obtaining a private pilot's license, you probably already know you'll be required to complete a significant amount of groundwork, as well as log actual flying time with a qualified flight instructor in flight school. You may not, however, be aware you'll have to meet certain medical standards before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will issue you a PPL.

Private and recreational pilots will have to qualify for Class III medical certificate from the FAA, which must be performed by an authorized FAA medical examiner, and it's advised that you get your certificate before you begin flight training. There are several conditions that can disqualify you from being issued a PPL. Following are seven of them.

Inadequate Vision

In order to be issued a PPL by the FAA, you must pass a vision test showing you have at least 20/40 vision in each eye and can adequately perceive colors. Thankfully, modern advances in vision care means this isn't nearly the problem that it's been in the past, but you'll be required to take corrective measures if your eyesight doesn't measure up.

Substance Dependance and Abuse

A history of substance dependance and abuse may disqualify you from being eligible for a PPL. However, if you have been clean for a period of time, it's likely you will qualify for an exemption, so be sure to check with your local flight school or FAA medical examiner for the latest regulations. In most cases, you will be eligible if you can show you have successfully completed a certified rehabilitation program and have been clean for a specific amount of time.

Coronary Heart Disease

Those who have been diagnosed with significant coronary heart disease will not be eligible for a PPL. This qualification includes those who have been fitted with pacemakers, those who have undergone cardiac valve replacement surgery, and those who routinely experience angina.

Audio Issues

Successful applicants for Class III medical certification through the FAA for the purpose of being granted a PPL should be able to pass a conversational voice test that shows they can hear normal voice tones from a distance of six feet with their backs turned away from the examiner. However, alternative testing is available for deaf people who aspire to be private pilots, so be certain ask for flight school for information certification options for those who are legally deaf.

Mental Health Issues

Those with a documented history of mental health issues will probably not be able to obtain a PPL. Disqualifying conditions include:

  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Psychosis.
  • Severe personality disorder.

Part of the reason why mental health issues pose significant barriers to successful Class III certification is they frequently involve prescriptions for disqualifying medications. For instance, sedatives frequently prescribed to those with mental disorders can substantially impair cognitive functioning, making it dangerous to operate an aircraft of any size.

Neurological Disorders

Epilepsy, narcolepsy, and other neurological disorders are usually causes for disqualification for Class III medical certification. Those with epilepsy can sometimes be considered for certification if a documentation can be provided that proves at least 10 years have passed since the last seizure without the use of anticonvulsant drugs. People who have suffered from small strokes are sometimes eligible for certification if a period of two years of uneventful recovery has passed.


Diabetes that requires the regular use of hypoglycemic prescription drugs such as insulin is another condition that will disqualify you from obtaining a Class III medical certification from the FAA. However, diabetics who do not require the use of insulin to control their condition may be eligible for Class III certification, but that is up to the individual medical examiner to determine.