On Monday 19th March 2018, I attended Centreline Aviation Medical Services’ Central London surgery at 22 Upper Wimpole Street in Marylebone to complete my Class One Medical examination.
To make an appointment, I had to chose a date from the list provided in the joining email and call them back to chose a time. I was given a choice of either 09:00 or 09:30, so I chose 09:30 whilst thinking ‘maybe the rush hour traffic won’t be so bad’. How wrong I was? To finalise my booking, I had to pay the full amount over the phone, which was £540.00.
As I mentioned earlier, a copy of the Med-160 Form will be attached to the joining email you first received from Centreline, but you can also download a copy from the CAA’s website here. The Med-160 form is a comprehensive questionnaire about your flying experience to date and both your personal and aviation medical history, as well as some of the standard information you find on any CAA form of this type. Make sure you answer all the questions honestly, using a black pen and in capital letters. If you get stuck with any of the sections on the form there is a guidance page attached.
The first part of my day was sight tests. I have been required to wear glasses and contact lenses since I was 15 years old and have a restriction on my EASA Class Two Medical that means I must always wear lenses or glasses when flying and carry a spare pair of both in flight. For those of you in the same situation as me, you will be used to some of the examinations that I am about to describe. Your joining email will tell you that if you wear glasses or contact lenses, you must bring with you your glasses, lenses and a copy of your prescription from the last six months.
The next test is your Visual Field Test, which takes place one eye at a time, the other will be covered by a patch. Pirate jokes at the ready! You will be asked to place your chin on a small ledge facing into a dome shape and be given a trigger button. You will be asked to concentrate on the centre of the dome. Once the test begins, small lights will randomly appear around the dome. You must click the trigger every time you see a light. Each of these tests take place for a few minutes at a time. The last part of your sight test will involve an eye examination. The doctor spent some time with me, staring at my eye through a lens using a bright light. He also took some images of the backs of my eye.
Height, Weight & Urine
Next up, I was called into another office where I was directed to a toilet and asked to provide a sample of my urine into a small pot. For those of you that have provided urine samples in the past, you know what happens and for those of you that haven’t……lets just say its hardly the most dignifying thing to do.
The doctor will be looking for you to have a BMI of no higher than 35, and the closer you are to 35, the sterner their advice to lose weight will be!
ECG & Lung Capacity
After another short wait back in the waiting room, I was summoned into the doctors office. I was asked to remove my top and lie flat on a bed. The doctor then attached a series of sticky pads to various parts of my torso and one on the inside of my ankle. To these sticky pads, the doctor then attached a series of cables connected to a machine. I was then asked to lie completely still and as relaxed as possible for a couple of minutes while the machine took a reading. The ECG measures the electrical impulses passing through your heart. It can show disorders of the heart rhythm or of the conduction of the impulses, and sometimes it can show a lack of blood supplying the heart muscle. Changes on an ECG require further investigation. A report from a cardiologist and further tests (for example an exercise ECG) may need to be done. The results of the ECG are not discussed until your doctors examination at the end.
After redressing, I was then asked to stand up straight and I was presented with a machine no bigger than a modern mobile phone, but with a cardboard tube extending from it. Two tests would be conducted with this machine. The first tested how long I could blow outwards after one large draw of breath. The doctor encouraged me to keep blowing into the tube until I could give no more. This test was performed twice and I was informed instantaneously that I’d passed. The second test, again with the same machine, tested how much air I could eject quickly, in a short space of time, again from one large breath in. Again, this was done twice, with some encouragement from the doctor and I was told I’d passed straight away.
For those of you that have undertaken a hearing test before, maybe at work, you’ll be very familiar with the set up at Centreline Aviation Medical Services. For those of you that haven’t, you’ll sit in a sound proof booth approximately the size of a telephone box. You wear a pair of ear defender style headphones and have a trigger button. Each ear will be tested separately, with different pitched beeps at progressively louder volumes played. You must click the trigger at the first instance of hearing the beep. Just click, do not hold as this distorts the results. The test takes around five minutes per ear, so about ten minutes in total. Its a fairly straight forward test with nothing to trip you up and you will be told your results instantly.
They will be using your blood samples to check your haemoglobin levels (your bodies ability to carry oxygen) and your cholesterol levels. The results of your blood tests will be talked about during your doctors examination later on.
So, to the final stage of my examination. The Doctors Examination. The first thing I was asked to do is to remove all my clothes, apart from my underwear and lie down on a bed. The doctor used a small rub hammer to knock against my joints to check my joint’s reactions to the pressure. Next the doctor had a short check of my organs in my midriff area. And finally, I was asked to stand, back straight, eyes closed for a short period of time to check my natural balance. For this one, you don’t want to be seen to be swaying or leaning.