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ATCO eyesight requirements

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ATCO eyesight requirements

Old 4th Apr 2019, 11:15
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ATCO eyesight requirements

If, during an EU Class 3 medical I were to be classed as unfit on the basis of my visual acuity, could I subsequently be classed as fit following [email protected] eye surgery, provided that it brings my visual acuity into line with the requirements? Previously NATS stipulated that it was the pre-operative prescription which formed the basis for an assessment, but this doesnít seem to be mentioned anywhere in the EU Class 3 regulations, so am I correct to deduce this rule no longer applies?

On page 26 of this PDF, it states that: "After refractive surgery, a fit assessment may be considered, provided that: (i) pre-operative refraction was not greater than +5 dioptres". However, that document is from 2011, and subclause (i) does not appear in the current regulations, leading me to believe the pre-operative prescription is no longer a determining factor in being assessed as fit or otherwise.

However, I would really appreciate it if someone who has first-hand knowledge of this could confirm one way or the other.

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Old 4th Apr 2019, 14:24
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Try page 166 (167 including cover) of this document:

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Old 4th Apr 2019, 14:27
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I can't tell from experience as I didn't have that problem and I don't know the exact rule about it, but when going through your medical they ask you to let them know if you've had surgery and, if so, you are asked to bring any related specialist report with you. So they do take it into account, although not sure how, but it will probably be the way Trevor mentioned in that other PDF.
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Old 4th Apr 2019, 14:53
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Thanks both. Yep, I'd also seen the PDF you sent the link to, Trevor, in which the clause about pre-operative refractive is no longer present. I guess I'm just hoping to hear first hand from someone who's been in a similar position.
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Old 4th Apr 2019, 14:58
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What doesn't help is this information on Eurocontrol's website (pasted below), which seems to indicate more stringent requirements than the EU Class 3 regs. Now, I know Eurocontrol and NATS are completely different entities, but I would have thought they both have to follow the same medical regulations?

From Eurocontrol's website: Refractive eye surgery (i.e. [email protected] treatment) makes you in principle unfit as ATC. However, you may be assessed as fit if the vision testing (including stability of the eye and if no disturbances in the performance of the eyes are found) is satisfactory to the Authorised Medical Supervisor, after extensive ophtalmologic testing. Also the refraction before the surgery must have been between +5 and –6 dioptres.
Of course, it's entirely plausible that Eurocontrol simply haven't updated this information since the change in regulations!
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Old 4th Apr 2019, 19:35
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Originally Posted by tf412 View Post
Of course, it's entirely plausible that Eurocontrol simply haven't updated this information since the change in regulations!
Of course, it's equally plausible that Eurocontrol sets higher standards for those that it might employ.
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Old 4th Apr 2019, 20:04
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Originally Posted by LookingForAJob View Post
Of course, it's equally plausible that Eurocontrol sets higher standards for those that it might employ.
Well, yes, except that: (i) I thought the whole point of the EU Class 3 regulations was to ensure consistency across the EU and that all ANSPs were expected to abide by the same regs (I could be wrong, though); (ii) the wording on Eurocontrolís website seems to reflect the wording from the old EU regulations (surely not a coincidence?); and (iii) specifying a more stringent pre-operative requirement doesnít actually translate into a higher post-operative standard
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Old 4th Apr 2019, 20:31
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For most of my ATC career, NATS/CAA insisted on a Class 1 medical certificate. It was almost the same as the CPL/ATPL medical, apart from the frequency of the ECG and possibly the chest X-Ray.

Passing the Class 1 exam, initially, and annually, was the best MOT you could have.

The Class 3 certificate was required for the PPL Course, which was part of the NATS ATCO Cadet Course.
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Old 5th Apr 2019, 17:09
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And these days a class 2 is required for PPL, class 3 for ATCO and class 1 for CPL/ATPL.

tf412, contact the CAA medical branch and ask them directly.

I had a coursemate who had [email protected] surgery, but not sure what their eye sight was before the surgery.

If you want to read the source you want regulation (EU) 2015/340, which can be found here:


The rule in question is ATCO.MED.B.070, I don't understand the medical bits well enough to tell you what that actually says about [email protected] surgery though.
Obviously usual brexit caveats apply, if someone reads this in the future EU law may no longer apply to the UK.
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Old 5th Apr 2019, 18:22
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I'd say you are correct with your understanding of the new rules.

As you can probably guess by my username I have first hand experience of a similar situation. I tried to put myself through a medical about 3 years ago, but was refused an appointment by the CAA after sending them a copy of my [email protected] surgery report. The refusal was based on my pre-operative prescription (which was outwith the prescribed pre-operative limits). They told me at the time that the regulations were due to change and that I should look in to this as it may help me in the future.

Sure enough, the EU340 regulations removed the stipulations regarding pre-operative prescription, and in February of this year I underwent an Initial Class 3 EU Medical at Heathrow Medical Services (HMS) and have been issued with a medical certificate. HMS were unable to issue the certificate on the same day, as they told me that in the case of someone having had [email protected] eye surgery they are required to pass the case to the CAA for them to assess and issue the certificate. So the results of my ophthalmic evaluation at HMS were first sent off to the HMS consultant to be checked and signed off before my file was passed to the CAA. Less than a week after they received my file, I received my medical certificate through the post.

I hope this helps!
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Old 5th Apr 2019, 19:45
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Yes, that's extremely helpful – thanks!
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