View Full Version : Failed Class 1 Medical in Gatwick

19th Feb 2008, 11:07
Hi Everyone,

I failed the spirometry test in Gatwick. I am 6ft2 28 year old male my vital capacity was measured at 7.81 liters and I got an FEV1 % of 62. This further deteriated after been asked to run around the aviation building and been tested again. I thought this low result could have been down to my fitness as even though I am tall and slim I haven’t been very active over the past year with regards to sports.

The CAA told me to discuss these results with my GP or respiratory specialist. And to seek long term treatment of a low dosage inhaled steroid. Both my GP and the respiratory specialist said that there was nothing wrong with me. It might be just because of my height and the fact that I have large lungs, it would be harder for me to force a high % of air out in the 1st second.

My respiratory specialist suggested that I take a methacholine challenge test. I failed this the first time so I was put on an inhaler for 5 weeks. (The one I am using is a Symbicort Turbohaler). I have never had any history of asthma in my life and played numerous sports as a kid and throughout school. So I rebooked to do this methacholine challenge test again and passed it the second time. Now I am back on the inhaler and also bought a powerbreathe to help improve my lung function and hopefully increase my FEV1%. I am scheduled for another Spirometry test in March.

I also bought a home peak flow test and am getting a score ranging from 640 been my highest to 590 been my lowest.

I would just like to know if anyone else has had the same experience as me and did they get their class one medical in the end? Is there any technique I could use to help improve my spirometry test result?

I appreciate any info on this as I am waiting 5 months now to get this all cleared up!


19th Feb 2008, 11:41
Hi Feather,

Sorry no specific idea, but maybe you can use google for this purpose as well.

And Gents, please also write what aspects are taken into consideration (testing) in a Class1 Medical test. I mean which tests are required for a Class 1 Medical?


19th Feb 2008, 13:29
Could be perhaps that it's just a general fitness issue? I do a lot of swimming and find it works wonders for bolstering one's lung function. Being one of those filthy smokers (quiet at the back please) I was very aware of the massive improvement when I got fit and active again.

That test down at Gatwick is a bugger though. I didn't understand what it was I was actually doing when I took it, felt like I'd belted out too much in the initial blast and had nothing left to keep going with. As it turned out I could have got away with blowing substantially less on the initial blast. Started to make a little more sense when I skimmed back through the ATPL HPL book; seems to be a combined test of peak-flow, tidal and residual lung capacity, or err, something like that.

19th Feb 2008, 21:32

Sorry to hear you didn't get your class 1 but keep trying!

I am a pharmacist and my advice to you would be, get plenty of aerobic exercise in the weeks and months running up to your test. I see time until your test is limited so you will have to push yourself hard in order to gain a significant improvement in lung function.

Regular aerobic exercise improves your ability to force air in and out of the lungs by strengthening the muscles involved in breathing. This should see an improvement in your FEV1 and FVC readings.

Aerobic exercise includes running/swimming/cyling for long distances at a moderate pace. I would agree with Shunter and recommend swimming as it uses more muscles and therefore has a greater demand for oxygen.

Use your inhaler in the weeks before and on the morning of your test (check with CAA this is allowed as i'm not sure). Symbicort contains a bronchodilator as well as a steroid. This will open up your airways and should help with spirometry readings. Check out this link for other tips: http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/common/standard/transform.jsp?requestURI=/healthatoz/Atoz/dc/tp/tpspirometry.jsp

I hope this helps and good luck!

Could you please let me know how you booked your class 1 as I wish to get mine in the near future. Cheers

19th Feb 2008, 21:56
Floating f, reading between the lines, it sounds like you may have previously undiagnosed asthma,and it sounds like exercise is a trigger factor. I can't think of any other obvious causes in an otherwise fit 28yr old.

Peak flow rates can be variable, and to some extent, rely on technique. Practice can "help" your readings,but spirometry is less easy to manipulate.

Your height shouldn't be an issue, as the reference ranges used will take this into account.

Generally,lung function can be improved with exercise, but in your case, things could initially be made worse.

I suspect that you symptoms will improve with continued inhaled treatment.:)

The good news is, that from previous postings on this forum, pilots seem to be able to fly with controlled asthma.

Keep us informed, and let us know when you get your ticket.

19th Feb 2008, 22:16
Floating F,

I had almost the same thing happen, they told me to strip to my waist and run around the building 3 times and blow again. The results were the same as the first time, doc suggested I should be a chronic asthmatic lying on the floor after the run but clearly I was not. They re-calibrated the machine and made me do it a third time and I got the same results again. Passed everything else and was advised that they would contact me regarding the spirometric test. Two weeks later received 1st class medical in the mail.
Here is the interesting bit, the week before my medical I was spraying a car in the garage with a not too good respirator so have often wondered if this had any bearing on the results. I too was a smoker but have since had my right lung removed due to lung cancer, after considerable rehabilitation, effort and a demonstrated ability test, I have my FAA 1st class medical back and am flying again. Guess I was lucky but often wonder if the CAA test was a warning of things to come!. Good luck :ok:

20th Feb 2008, 08:57
Hey Guys thanks for your replies.

I am not too sure if there was a problem with the CAA Spirometry Machine as i rebooked and did the test again in dublin (2 weeks after initial test) and pretty much got the same result.

I think your right gingernut maybe i did have a mild form of asthma hidden away. And my respiratory specialist said i could have goen through my whole life not knowing i had asthma if i didnt try and get this class 1 medical.

Since then i have joined a gym and am going at least 4 times a week using the treadmill and the row machine. Just trying to improve my fitness level.

Just another observation i have been taking my inhaler twice a day morning and night but after 2 full weeks now there still is not any mayor increase in my peak flow result. I am still getting an average score of 600.

Hey ulsterflyer I booked my medical after my last ATPL Exam. I know i should have got the medical first but stupid me just assumed i would have no problem with it as i had my eyes and ears tested previously before and they were fine.
All you have to do is give them a ring and choose a date that suits you. Here is the link http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=49

Thanks again guys i will keep up the gym, inhaler and the powerbreathe until the test date and hopefully that will be good enough to get my Med Cert.

22nd Feb 2008, 21:57
Just another observation i have been taking my inhaler twice a day morning and night but after 2 full weeks now there still is not any mayor increase in my peak flow result. I am still getting an average score of 600.

Bit strange...I passed my class 1 with a peak flow of 600-650 (6ft also) and they were aware of my asthma and inhaler usage. Doctor seemed very happy with it at the time. I wouldnt worry about increasing it that much as it wont really go anywhere.

Just get in shape and keep taking the inhaler. Get a letter from your GP saying it has never troubled you, never hospitalised or had attacks etc. Go visit a respiratory clinic in hospital a letter off them as well.

If its never troubled you before then its suprising that it would keep you from passing the medical. Unless the stuff below (which I dont really understand) is a big problem.

at 7.81 liters and I got an FEV1 % of 62

10th Mar 2008, 14:01
Hi everyone!

Floatingfeather, soz to hear you didn't get your medical because of the spirometry test. I am just wondering, does anyone on here know what the pass values are for the two tests involved? I have checked the CAA website but there doesn't seem to anything apart from what the two tests entail. If anyone could shed any light on this subject, that'd be fantastic!

Thanks in advance!

Adam. :ok:

12th Mar 2008, 15:44
Hi all,

Just to let you all know I did the spirometry test again (after been on my inhaler for 5 weeks & going to the gym 3/4 times a week) My FE1% increased to 72% so I am with the limits required by the CAA. I am now just waiting on them to get back to me about this result. Will let you all know how I get on.

dunelmitepilot here is what I found on the caa website about their criteria for asthma. I meet all these requirements so here’s hoping I can finally get this medical sorted out:ugh::ugh:

Class 1 Requirements

Initial Class 1 certification may be possible provided that:

There is a minimum period of 5 years since the last acute attack, and no significant hospital admissions
Lung function tests are acceptable (the FEV1/FVC ratio should be greater than 70% with no appreciable drop after exercise)
The asthma is well controlled on treatment with an inhaled steroid (“preventer”), with or without an inhaled bronchodilator (“releiver”). Treatment with steroid tablets is disqualifying.
There is no bronchospasm (wheeze) on examination
There is no bronchospasm with a mild respiratory infection (e.g. common cold)
A comprehensive report detailing the above is provided from a Consultant Chest Physician

Existing Class 1 certificate holders who develop asthma require similar evaluation and may be restricted to multi-crew duties

12th Mar 2008, 16:22

Thanks for that. It looks like I may ok then: in my chidlhood I did suffer from asthma (2 ventolin inhalers a day!) but fortunately I grew out of it and fortunately haven't had them prescribed to me for over 10 year now. I was also lucky in that when I did have it I didn't have any attacks.

I will certainly do what others have suggested about going to the gym/going swimming regularly to prepare for it though as this can only (hopefully!) have a positive effect.

Thanks again for your reply, all the best.


21st Mar 2008, 14:18

Hi. My case is very near identical to yours. Happy you passed in the end. I did my test in Dublin last year & got a reading of 68.8% for the Spirometry, and between 600 & 640 for the Peak Flow. I passed everything else. However I am smaller at 5Ft 9". My retest is on next month.

Same as you I am training 4 times a week & on Symbicort Turbohaler.
Did you find this inhaler helpful to you? I will have 4weeks on this inhaler before my test.

I am quite close so all I need is to push it up that few percent. I am being told that it is very hard get the FEV1 up once you are below. I was quite unfit at time I tested, & I was smoking which I have totally cut out. But you came up 10% which is a big improvement. Just hope I have the same improvement.

Is it true that you only have to pass this Spirometry test once in your flying career? And also that the Peak Flow is tested every 5 years thereafter?

Does anybody know if your weight makes a difference to your Expected result? What i mean is if you are heavier do you have a lower expected FEV1 result compared to a person that is lighter for his/her height?

Thanks :ok:

9th Apr 2008, 15:31

I'm just about to turn 17 (and thus go for my Initial Class 1 at Gatwick)

I'm 5' 10" (perhaps half an inch over), am slim, but I don't do that much exercise (although I'm changing that at the moment). I was wondering in terms of lung capacity, what are the requirements?

This may sound a bit stupid, but it is the only guage I have, but using the extremly crude method of blowing into a balloon and measuring the circumfrence with a piece of string etc., it only seems to translate into about 4 litres capacity. Is this ok or not? I have seen people saying about 7 or 8 litres capacity!

I don't suffer from asthma or anything, and I just wanted to know if this is something I should worry about (e.g. get exercising!).

Thanks very much!

David Horn
10th Apr 2008, 21:05
Would have thought that your GP could do a vital capacity test, if you asked. Blowing up a balloon is not how I'd choose to measure it, since the air inside is compressed...

However, Wikipedia is nearly always helpful:

It is possible to make a simplified spirometer of your own. Simply take two soda straws, and an aluminum can filled with water, allowing some airspace at the top. Place one straw deeply in the water, place the other one just above the water. Ensure that the straws are sealed in some way. Exhaling through one straw will displace water which can be measured as it exits the second straw. Multiply the displaced water volume by 10 for tidal volume and 100 for lung capacity.

16th Apr 2008, 12:40
Hey Guys,

Just a quick question. Does anyone know anything about an excercised spirometry test? I know its the same as a normal spirometry test but done over 3 stages pre and post excercise.

But i would like to know what would the CAA be loking for? How much of a drop are "within limits" to pass for the class 1 medical from the initial first test to the 3rd test 10 mins after rest.

Thanks again

18th Apr 2008, 21:26
does anyone know if NATS require you to do the spirometry test for their medical requirements. I also have a past history of asthma but it is uncer control with inhalers, but my peakflow is only 500 - 550 unlike th e600-650 some of you guys are getting:(

does anyone who has applied to be an ATCO or any current ATCO's know if you have to do the spirometry test and if so what would the minimum FEVF1 % required, ie would it be 70% as above for the CAA class 1 medical?

Thanks in advance for any input:ok:

11th Feb 2009, 17:25
Hi floting feather,

Seems like a late reaction, but was searching for pilots with asthma so after a long search i saw this forum:} I had the class 1 medical (JAR-FCL3) in Amsterdam/Holland couple of months ago, and i also was adviced to go to a specialist. First results at the medical: FEV1 67% Peakflow 75% and FEV1/FVC 49%. Resent results from the specialist: FEV1 78.3% Peakflow 100% and FEV1/FVC 51.58%.

Floting feather, you're saying your 72% FEV1 is sufficient for the class1 medical. Are you sure you mean the FEV1 or is it the FEV1/FVC?

Greetings Alex

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