People with HIV can now become commercial airline pilots in the UK thanks to a rule change from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Last month, Anthony (not his real name), a man from Glasgow, Scotland, was denied a medical certificate to become a pilot with EasyJet due to his HIV status.
The airline originally offered him a position in their training program before CAA denied the request.
Following this, organizations like CAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) began looking into a rule change.
Now, it’s finally happened. Transport secretary Chris Grayling confirmed the rule change in the House of Commons on Thursday (18 January).
CAA’s full statement
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is committed to being one of the most progressive aviation authorities in the world. We have often led aviation regulatory changes that have enabled pilots with medical conditions to keep flying, most recently in our ground-breaking work on insulin-treated diabetes. We have also been responsible for writing international guidelines on pilots living with HIV and have been promoting the need for changes to the current regulations regarding the restrictions applicable to pilots with certain medical conditions, including HIV.
In relation to HIV, we have made representations to EASA, which is the governing body responsible for medical standards, and asked them to undertake the necessary rulemaking activity and associated research without delay, that we hope will lead to a permanent change to the current regulations.
We recognise that this research will take time and we will continue to offer our full support to this work in any way we can. In the meantime, the CAA will issue initial Class 1 Medical certificates with a restriction to multi-pilot operations to applicants wishing to become commercial pilots, subject to the applicants passing their Class 1 Medical assessment.
People can now ‘follow their dreams’
After Anthony’s story, pressure came down on the CAA.
Mulitple people supported Anthony, including Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Chair of the Commons transport select committee, Lilian Greenwood, and HIV Scotland also came to his aid.
‘I am totally overwhelmed,’ Anthony told BuzzFeed. ‘I never expected this to happen so quickly. I’m grateful that it’s happened and very conscious of the fact that it’s not just me, it’s anyone with HIV that can now become a pilot. It’s monumental.’
He further called it a ‘huge change’ and he hopes that it causes change beyond the UK.
‘Anyone who has felt restricted by the condition, who’s in my situation, can now follow their dreams.’
He also thanked his supporters on Twitter.
Overwhelmed, shocked, elated and humbled. Words alone can’t express my gratitude to @nathansparkling @HIVScotland @PatrickStrud @BBCAndrewBlack @BritishHIVAssoc @beckshuss for their support. Let’s share the great news and let EVERY HIV+ aspiring pilot in the UK, FLY https://t.co/DgFBjuiaCK
— Anthony (@PilotAnthonyGLA) January 18, 2018
H/t: BuzzFeed News