Initial class 1 medical at CAA Gatwick

CAA Gatwick

Yesterday I had my Initial Class 1 medical at CAA Gatwick.
It was a weird day that I’m going to run through now so that anyone who has one upcoming can know what to expect.
First things first, the directions of how to get to the CAA Gatwick on their website are basically rubbish. What you need to do is find Costa in the south terminal, walk in the walkway to the emergency exit then down the stairs and outside.
Walk towards the road, you will see a bus stop. Walk past it and then you will see a subway, walk under there to the bus stop on the other side which is bus stop 13. The bus will cost you £1.50 and the CAA is less than 5 mins on it.
Also on the letter it says car parking is limited, when I went there was ample car parking.
Right onto the actual tests and what happens.

Height and weight
I had my height and weight taken, nothing really to report here.

You will have a test to check your hearing. These beeps are super quiet, so quiet that if people are walking outside of the room you will have difficulty in hearing them. I think this is a bit unfair and they should do a better job in isolating the booth.
What you will have to do is click a button everytime you hear something, which is nice and straight forward.

There are two tests here. One where you look into a machine and see a house in a distance, it will go in and out and focus. This is to measure how your eye reacts.
You will then have your head put in a weird cone type thing and have to focus on a dot. White dot’s will appear in your peripheral vision and you have to press a clicker when you see them. It takes four minutes per eye to complete this test.

This is the classic pee in a cup. You will be sent to the toilet and have to provide a sample in a cup which you then put in a hole in the wall. The sample has to be mid stream which means you have start to pee, stop in the middle and get your sample, then finish peeing in the toilet.

You will be taken into a room and have to remove your top and have these pads put on you, which are then hooked up to a ECG. This machine has a look at your heart to make sure everything is ok.

Lung Tests
You will be taken to a room which has a machine that you pretty much need to blow into. This machine will measure your lung functionality with tests to check the capacity & how much air you can expell.

More in depth tests.

You will then have to go see a specialist eye doctor who will do a lot more in depth tests on your eyes. You will have the traditional read the letters, another 1 to see where lines are in relation to one on a screen. There was also an air pressure test which blows gusts of air into your eyes.
There are a few things you need to focus on as the doctor moves it, a book with some numbers in it in sort of a magic eye type situation and a few paragraphs that he asks you to read.
You will be asked to look in every direction while the doctor shines a light into your eyes and gives them a good going over.

Medical tests with a doctor.
These tests were the final ones for me. The doctor asked about my health & took my blood pressure. He then did a variety of tests that checked my balance, reflexes, movement, if I had any hernias with the classic cough tests. He also listened to my breathing with his stethoscope and looked into my ears.
This is where you find out the results of your medical. For me, it couldn’t be issued as I needed to go and see a specialist because I had asthma when I was younger. As far as I can tell my lung tests were fine, it was simply because of the asthma when I was younger, that I have to go back for a respiratory consultation with a specialist.
There was also something with the ECG that the doctor told me he had to have the heart specialist take a quick look at but shouldn’t be a issue.
He told me he doesn’t think either of these things will be an issue, so I hope he is right. The further test cost me £115 so on top of the £344 for the medical, this is 2.5 hours of “air time” I have lost here.
Unfortunately for me the next appointment is not for another 3 weeks so I have to wait. It will almost be a month with my medical in limbo so I am a bit gutted about that.

What now?

I have a flying lesson book for next Saturday which I will still take however I wont ramp up the frequency like planned. This will have to wait until my class 1 is issued as I wouldn’t want to spend a fortune on training and then not be able to get a class 1.
At one lesson a week I will have only had 5 lessons by the time I meet with the doctor which I’m ok with.
I was also surprised to see some of the much younger guys who could have only been in their early twenties not be able to have their medical issued. I overheard one comment that he failed his medical so I guess it could be a lot worse. Saying that I’m not sure what he meant by failed, he may just need to go see another doctor or pay for another test.
At least I can get started on the theory I guess. There is no point wasting time when I could be getting started on the infamous air law.
I will update the blog after I have the next set of tests, which will require another day off work.

Update – I have a voicemail from the doctor saying I may not need to see the other doctor and he will contact me next week.

Update 2 – I called the CAA medical department and was told that I could just get a report from my doctor about my asthma and submit it to them via email. I have done this but the reply said it may take up to 10 days.

Update 3 – I have jut heard from the CAA doctor and I now have to have an exercise spirometry test done. He told me that the ECG was all fine though. I am just waiting to get the letter to find out exactly what I need to do and then find out if my local doctors can do it.

Update 4 – Success! I have done the exercise spirometry at the CAA as I couldn’t find anyone local to do it. I have been told that they will issue my Class 1 and it will be in the post shortly. It’s been 1 day short of 3 weeks since my first appointment.

Update 5 – No Success! They have said that I will not be getting my medical because this spirometry that I have blown into the machine and passed 5 times now is not good enough. Nor is the report on the asthma they made me go see my doctor and get which states I don’t suffer from asthma anymore.
Infact the doctor that I had paid for to see 3 weeks ago (that they still havent refunded me for even though they have said they have) will have to see me. This exerice spirometry cost me £39 + £25 travel expenses and it was all pointless. I had already booked to see this doctor and have been sent to do all this for no reason and I am right back where I started.

Update 6 – I am being told I will have to come back to see Dr Bramley (yes the same doctor I had originally booked to see) to do what test? EXERCISE SPIROMETRY! Yes the same test I just took a half day off and went down to Gatwick to do.
They also have not refunded me it has been 4 weeks now.
Apprently because it’s an initial class 1 medical I have to do it with the doctor which says to me that going down to do it on it’s own was a redundant and pointless test …. a test which my results were “normal” by the way, just like the original spirometry test.I am so fustrated with the CAA I can’t even find the words right now.

Update 7 – After making a complaint the doctor from the CAA called me and said that nobody has showed him my file since before I did all the spirometry and that he IS going to issue my Class 1.
I am glad that I am getting my class 1 but after being told I need to see Dr Bramley I booked again to see him. The CAA now have 2x £115 from me that I don’t think I will see any time soon (the first refund has been outstanding two days short of a month as of today 20/11/2015)

Update 8 – I finally have my medical! Now I can get on with the flying.

Do not give the CAA a single penny of your money for any exam or test if you are not sure if it is needed. While they say you can cancel with 5 days notice, they seem to think that it is acceptable to take as long as they feel like to refund you.

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6 Replies to “Initial class 1 medical at CAA Gatwick”

  1. Hi!
    Firstly your blog was really informative because I wish to get a class 1 medical too, and secondly Im really glad you finally got your medical in the end. However I just wanted to ask whether I could fail this test because I have nearsightedness for both eyes (Right eye-2.50 SPH, 0.75 CYL., Axis 180degrees and Left- 1.50 SPH, 1.50 CYL., Axis 170degrees).
    If I happen to fail this test because of this issue, would there be anything I could possibly do to fix it.
    Thanks in advance and waiting for your reply – Aashi.

    1. Hi Aashi, I’m afraid I’m not able to answer this one for you, you would need to contact an AME who would be able to provide an answer 🙂

  2. Hi Keelan,

    Great blog and congratulations on achieving your fATPL!

    I’ve recently had my class 1, and due to childhood asthma (15 years ago…) I’ve been referred for an exercise spirometry too. However, the chest physician I’ve been referred to has quoted £300!!

    Would it be possible to let me know who you did yours with?

    1. Cheers mate!
      Bloody hell £300 that’s outrageous. When I did it, the CAA had in house medical so I just did it there. Can you call around and find alternatives?

      1. I’ve called around a number of alternatives, and unbelievably £300 is the cheapest – which is not good news… But hey, it’s an expensive game.

        Thanks for the quick response and good luck in the job hunt!

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