Can deaf people fly?

Yes.  If you can drive, you should be able to fly.


How do deaf people fly without using the radio?

Actually it is not a legal requirement to hold a FRTOL (Flight Radiotelephony Operators Licence).

If a pilot wishes to fly in controlled airspace (i.e. Birmingham, Heathrow) then he/she will need to speak to ATC (air traffic controllers) and they will need a FRTOL to transmit over the radio.

Most recreational flying is done in open, uncontrolled airspace in good weather conditions, which does not need a radio.


What can deaf people fly?

Gliders, Motor-gliders, Microlights & Single Engine Aeroplanes.  In the USA some deaf people are qualified to fly multi-engine aircraft.


Can Deaf People fly Commercial Jets?

This would be very difficult. To fly an Airbus or Boeing you will need:

  • an Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL)
  • an EASA Class 1 Medical Certificate (which requires a hearing test)
  • to be able to communicate safely with Air Traffic Control

But you can still easily fly for fun! 🙂


Can deaf people earn money flying?

Not really no.  To earn money flying, pilots must hold:

  • an ATPL or CPL
  • an EASA Class 1 medical certificate (that requires passing a hearing test)

The only exception is that a Sailplane Pilot with a SPL and Class 2 Medical may receive remuneration for flying gliders.  (e.g. a professional gliding instructor)

In the USA there are a very small handful of pilots whom earn money doing things like crop spraying.  But in the UK we don’t have a crop spraying industry.


Do you need a medical certificate to fly?

Yes.  All pilots must have a medical certificate.  There are different medical certificates for commercial and private flying.

  • EASA Class 1 Medical Certificate – for Commercial Flying (CPL + ATPL)
  • EASA Class 2 Medical Certificate – for Private Flying (international)
  • EASA LAPL Medical – Private Flying in Europe
  • DVLA Medical – UK National Private Pilots Licence (Vintage aircraft and microlights)

It should not be a problem for deaf pilots to obtain a DVLA, LAPL or even a Class 2 Medical.  There are several deaf pilots in the UK with an EASA Class 2 medical.

We do not know of any deaf people with a Class 1 medical (for professional flying).

How do I get a Medical Certificate?

To get a medical certificate you will have to visit an AME (aeromedical examiner).  The CAA has a search facility to find an AME near you.  DVLA medical certificates are issued by your GP (General Practitioner).

If you are granted a medical certificate it may have restrictions, for example “no flights to or from airfields where ATC is provided by radio and remain outside controlled airspace”.

If the AME has questions over your deafness, please refer them to MED.B.08 for further information.

As we are not medical professionals, we can not advise further on your medicals than what is already noted above. Also, please note that the advice above is aimed at UK nationals wishing to obtain a CAA medical only. If you are a foreign national, please refer to the advice given by the aviation authority in your country, or email us before applying for a medical.