Thursday, October 23, 2014
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FAQsMinimize
Does PRK/Lasik disqualify me? What are the standards?

There are waivers for candidates who have had PRK surgery, and some similar types of surgeries. LASIK (or other similar surgeries) is not waiverable. As you might imagine, it's complicated! For more details, consult the "Refractive Surgery" section of the Waiver Guide.


Air Force Flying Physical RequirementsMinimize

This table contains an overview of the physical requirements to meet the Flying Class I (pilot) and Flying Class IA (navigator) standards.  We've put stuff like the dental and cholesterol requirements into the chart because that's something you can get checked out on your own and correct if there are any problems (e.g. get your cavities filled before your physical and don't cause yourself any unnecessary delays!)  There are a fairly large number of medical conditions which are disqualifying, so we've only covered some common ones here.  Check out AFI 48-123v3, Medical Examinations and Standards (Flying and Special Operational Duty), Section 1.3 and Attachment 4 for more detailed requirements or post your question here.  If you don't meet these standards, don't despair! Bear in mind that many of these items may be waiverable - we've noted the waiver standard where it was simple, but just because we don't list it doesn't mean it's not waiverable.  See the Waivers, Waivers, Waivers section below for more information. 

KEY: U-C=Uncorrected-Corrected
ItemFC IFC IA
Vision (Distant, U-C)20/70-20/2020/200-20/20
Vision (Near, U-C)20/30-20/2020/40-20/20
Vision (Color)Must be normal; 5 out of 14 incorrect is disqualifyingSame
Vision (Depth Perception)Must be normalSame
Height (Standing)64"-77"Same
Height (Sitting)34"-40"33"-40"
WeightNormal height/weight applies plus cannot be greater than 240 for UPT (ejection seat aircraft)Height/weight applies; Fighter track UNT no greater than 240
DentalCavities (etc) disqualifying until correctedSame
SpeechMust pass Read Aloud Test (RAT); No stutter, etcSame
Blood PressureNo greater than 140/90Same
CholesterolCannot be higher than 230 with HDL less than 15% of total or LDL greater than 170Same
Migraines (or similar non-tension headaches)Disqualifying (waiverable if asymptomatic for previous year)Same
Chronic "hay fever" or sinus problemsPossible issue (waiverable if allergies controllable by medication)Same
AsthmaDisqualifying (if "reliably diagnosed" at any age)Same
Navigating the USAF Medical Requirements MazeMinimize

While the standards are the same regardless of when, where and how you receive your medical exams to qualify you for UPT, we thought we'd attempt to detangle the variety of ways in which medical screening is accomplished based on your UPT application path.

KEY:

  • MTF - Military Treatment Facility (e.g. a base hospital or clinic)
  • DODMERB - Department of Defense Medical Exam Review Board (DODMErB is the agency that determines the medical qualification of applicants for service academies and ROTC 4-year scholarship programs. DODMERB physicals may be conducted at civilian facilities under contract or at MTFs).
  • MEPS - Military Entrance Processing Station (Facilities that screen applicants for enlistment/commissioning in a number of ways, including medical).

Physical TypeUSAFAAFROTCOTSANGActive Duty
Entry

When: As part of application process
Where: DODMERB contract facility (civilian) or MTF
How: Scheduled by USAFA Admissions

When: Prior to going on contract (usually your sophomore year)
Where:
Scholarship applicants
DODMERB (4-yr) or MTF (others)
Non-scholarship
MEPS or MTF
How: Scheduled by HQ ROTC (4-yr) or ROTC Detachment (all others)
NOTE: This physical will be used to pre-screen you for pilot qualification

N/AIt differs by unit, but many units request copies of any military physicals (if available), or copies of the Airman Medical Certificate (FAA) for those with private pilot's licenses.N/A (Previously completed)
CommissioningN/A (Combined with Flying Class I for pilot candidates)N/A (Combined with Flying Class I for pilot candidates)

When: During application process
Where: MEPS
How: Scheduled by recruiter
NOTE: Current enlisted applicants just need a medical records review at local MTF

N/A (Combined with Flying Class I for those selected for UPT.)N/A (Previously completed)
Flying Class I

When: Sophomore year
Where:
At the Academy
How: Scheduled by USAFA

When: After selection (categorization) but prior to commissioning
Where: MTF (Air Force only) or Brooks AFB, TX
How: Scheduled by HQ ROTC (work through Detachment)

When: After selection but prior to attending OTS
Where: MTF (Air Force only)
How: Scheduled by recruiter or base education office.
NOTE: Applicants age 28 1/2 or older, or those whose MEPS physicals do not appear to meet pilot standards will complete this prior to submitting their application.

When: After selection for UPT.
Where: MTF (Air Force only) or Brooks AFB, TX
How: Scheduled by guard unit.

When: Prior to submitting application
Where: Local MTF
How: Schedule yourself via your local aerospace medicine shop

Medical Flight Screening

When: Sophomore year (combined with FC1)
Where:
At the Academy
How: Scheduled by USAFA

When: After commissioning but prior to entering UPT
Where: Brooks AFB, TX
How: Scheduled by HQ ROTC (work through Detachment)
NOTE: ROTC cadets whose Flying Class I physicals are scheduled for Brooks will undergo Medical Flight Screening at the same time.

When: After OTS but prior to entering UPT
Where: Brooks AFB, TX
How: Scheduled by AFOATS.

When: After commissioning but prior to entering UPT
Where: Brooks AFB, TX
How: Scheduled by guard unit.
NOTE: Those whose Flying Class I physicals are scheduled for Brooks will undergo Medical Flight Screening at the same time.

When: After selection but prior to entering UPT
Where: Brooks AFB, TX
How: Scheduled by Special Flying Training folks at AFPC.

Waivers, Waivers, WaiversMinimize

If you take away only one thing from this page, remember this: There is a waiver for almost anything.  (This is especially true if you're heading into the Guard, of course).  To be sure, there are some medical issues that you cannot overcome, but you will do well to make researching waivers a habit whenever you hear "no."  It might always work out, but it certainly won't hurt to ask.

 

Flight docs are generally knowledgeable about which conditions are waiverable and which aren't, but you should make it a point to research the guidelines for waivers for any medical issue you know of. (Review AFI 48-123 Attachment 4 thoroughly to try to identify anything in your medical history that might be a problem.)  The Waiver Guide should be your first stop for research.  Because it can be written in 'medicalese' you might want to consult the family physician before your Flying Class physical to see if you fall within the guidelines for a waiver.  Only the opinion of the flight doc counts, of course, but if you have documentation showing you were previously examined and fell within the guidelines and bring that up, you might at least get a re-examination or second opinion.

Most flight docs are happy to help you - they're not trying to arbitrarily keep you from flying duty.  We're working to bring a flight doc on board to provide more specific tips on getting the waiver you need, but in the meantime users who have received waivers have shared their information below!

Minimize

Contact Those With Medical Waivers that Got Pilot Slots

Of the hundreds of pilots and pilot selects that have shared their medical waiver status with us several are available for contact should you be facing the same medical issue.  You must register/login to send the user an email.  They will then get an email from our website.  Be sure to put your contact info in the text of your message so they can respond to you.  To see all the Pilot Slot Stats please click here.

4.58% (30) Air Force Pilot/Pilot Selects have waivers (listed below) - you may contact them for more info


usernameWaiver Type 
< >  Page: (of 3)  Change page  Number of records per page:   Show Items  Total Records:29 
NARetained HardwareEmail User
yousayahhyesAllergic RhinitisEmail User
QuestionmanAsthmaEmail User
ryanmackChanging Refractive ErrorsEmail User
NADecreased Visual AcuityEmail User
rburcknerChanging Refractive ErrorsEmail User
TreyTaylor10Retained HardwareEmail User
NASyncopeEmail User
RamboNavRetained HardwareEmail User
jlg79Substandard Depth PerceptionEmail User
What is Medical Screening All About?Minimize

Medical Flight Screening (MFS) Basics
MFS was developed to augment the Flying Class I physical. It targets specific medical conditions previously identified to be both commonly occuring and to contribute to pilot medical attrition. The current disqualification rate from MFS is about 2%. It is administered at Brooks AFB, Texas. Most of this information is taken from the
official Medical Flight Screening information page.

MFS Administration
Medical Flight Screening takes about 1 day to complete. It can take longer if you've had PRK surgery because you may be scheduled for additional tests. It may also take longer if any initial tests indicate abnormalities. You MUST complete a PRK checklist 30 days prior to your appointment if you've had any type of laser eye surgery. You also must remove any contact lenses 90 days (hard) or 30 days (soft) prior to your MFS appointment; if you wear glasses, bring them with you. MFS is composed of three testing areas: Opthamology (vision), Anthropometrics (height), and Neuropsychiatry. The neuro/psychology screening consists of computer-based cognitive tests which are used only for a baseline - you cannot be disqualified based on the neuro/psychological screening. The other two tests are pass/fail. See below for more information on the three screening areas!

MFS Combined With Flying Class I Physical
USAFA cadets will generally complete MFS with their FCI physical at the Academy, though cadets who have had laser eye surgery may be required to travel to Brooks. Additionally, some ROTC cadets and ANG/AFR UPT-selects may be scheduled for their Flying Class I physical concurrently with Medical Flight Screening at Brooks. In this case, testing usually takes two days total (longer with laser eye surgery). The information below applies only to the tests specific to the MFS program - there will be additional tests if you also complete your Flying Class I physical at the same time.  Click here for more information on the combined FCI/MFS process.

Medical Flight Screening TestsMinimize
 

Opthamology
The opthamology tests are designed to identify any vision abnormalities that may go undetected by the Flying Class I program. The primary tests include a corneal topography test, the red lens test (which determines eye alignment and the ability to use both eyes together) and color vision tests.
Click here for the MFS opthamology information page.


 

Anthropometrics
This screening simply measures your standing height, sitting height, and buttock-to-knee measurement.
Click here for the MFS anthropometrics information page.


 

Neuropsychiatry
You cannot "fail" this screening. The primary purpose of the neuro/psychological screening is to establish baseline psychological testing data for each new USAF pilot. This baseline data is used as part of comprehensive medical examinations of aviators who sustain head injury in order to make return to flying recommendations. It involves a neuropsychiatry test battery and aptitude test.
Click here for the MFS neuropsychiatry information page.

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