Real Answers from Real Pilots

Hearing part of medical

Hey pilots,

So I just did my first intro/discovery flight with ATP in San Diego over the weekend and loved every minute of it. I would consider myself about 95% ready to take the next step in pursuing ATP and aviation as a full-time career but the one last major obstacle I am not 100% sure about is the hearing portion of the medical.

I was born pretty much deaf in my left ear but most people don’t realize that I am until I mention it to them.

When looking into the First Class Airman Medical Certificate: §67.105 Ear, nose, throat, and equilibrium under the FAA, it states:

Ear, nose, throat, and equilibrium standards for a first-class airman medical certificate are:

(a) The person shall demonstrate acceptable hearing by at least one of the following tests:

(1) Demonstrate an ability to hear an average conversational voice in a quiet room, using both ears, at a distance of 6 feet from the examiner, with the back turned to the examiner.

(2) Demonstrate an acceptable understanding of speech as determined by audiometric speech discrimination testing to a score of at least 70 percent obtained in one ear or in a sound field environment.

(3) Provide acceptable results of pure tone audiometric testing of unaided hearing acuity according to the following table of worst acceptable thresholds, using the calibration standards of the American National Standards Institute, 1969 (11 West 42d Street, New York, NY 10036):

Frequency (Hz) 500 Hz 1000 Hz 2000 Hz 3000 Hz
Better ear (Db) 35 30 30 40
Poorer ear (Db) 35 50 50

The major portion I’m looking into is “(a) The person shall demonstrate acceptable hearing by at least one of the following tests” because I can definitely do the first test, maybe the 2nd.

So I guess what my question is is it possible to become an airline pilot with a hearing deficiency in one ear?

PS. I have looked into cochlear implants but they do cost about 30k-40k.

Thank you

Hi Bryan,

Glad you had a good time on your intro and it was a positive experience. I’ve known a few pilots with diminished hearing in one ear and they’ve never had an issue. According to the FAA’s website: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/ame/guide/app_process/exam_tech/item49/et/
you only have to do the other testing “IF an applicant fails the conversational voice test”. You say you’re good on that one so I’m thinking you’re ok.

Adam

Bryan,

I have never actually taken a hearing test for my medical. The examiner just speaks conversationally and your ability to comprehend him is the test.

I could see you having some issues with the deafness as pilots often wear a headset ear plug in one side only, the side that is closest to the window, but this is not required and some people do wear dual headsets.

I would schedule an appointment with a medical examiner and ask them about your situation. As part of obtaining your first class medical you will get an answer to this question.

Chris