Diabetes green light for controllers

Pilots and air traffic controllers with diabetes treated with insulin and other medications that significantly lower blood glucose, will 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.  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.”

Posted in News, Safety

2 Responses to Diabetes green light for controllers

  1. Albert Aidoo Taylor says:

    This is great news! Decades ago, sickle cell was of such great concern and it was considered a safety issues for pilots and air traffic controllers with sickle cell disorder. This prevented people with sickle cell to be excluded from choosing piloting and air traffic controllers as profession. Unfortunately, sickle cell was prevalent in black people.
    It took the initiative of Dr E R K Dwemoh, the first Ghanaian air traffic controller himself a black man and the Regional Director of the ICAO WACAF Office to motivate ICAO to investigate the subject. The results paved the way for many black men who otherwise would not have become pilots and air traffic controllers to now have an opportunity to do so.
    As an air traffic controller, I had a painful time trying to convince my only daughter who had a passion to become pilot, why she could neither be a pilot nor air traffic controller because she is diabetic. It was a heartbreaking and tearful time for my daughter.
    Thank God for this breakthrough and kudos to all those who have worked tirelessly to achieve this feat. Dr Dwemoh received The Edward Warner Award (the highest award by ICAO for his work). I think those behind this breakthrough of diabetic people having an opportunity to become pilots and air traffic controllers be considered for an appropriate international recognition! Their work has opened the gate for people who otherwise would be deprived from realizing their dream and prevented some parents from experiencing what my daughter and I went through. (Albert Aidoo Taylor, Director ATM, Ghana Civil Aviation Authority)

  2. GeekforChrist says:

    Now if only the US will make this an option too.