Asthma and the RAF

I have a cadet who is trying to become a pilot in the RAF. However, he was diagnosed asthmatic at 10 years old although never really used an inhaler or suffered subsequently and therefore has been turned down. Is there anything we could suggest he does to get the decision overturned?

Unfortunately not. Any diagnosis in the past means you can wave good bye to aircrew. They have more than enough people wanting to be pilots without handing out waivers. I was there myself many many years ago, but I very much doubt the situation has changed

List of medical conditions that preclude entry.

It’s somewhat-ironic that the closing paragraph “Other Conditions” of your cited list reads almost like an extract from a nightmare-but-nearly-real Cadet Form TG23, located towards the top of a Camp Commandant’s document folder…the one they’ve got a PostIt note stuck on…!

The list from @MikeJenvey shatters a myth for me: I had always thought that the RAF >might< consider someone who had previously suffered from asthma, historically in the past, on a per-case basis, but would (understandably) never accept anyone who was diagnosed as ‘an asthmatic’. The list appears to rule-out both circumstances.

And, as is being said: with reduced numbers of vacancy slots to fill, the Force is being (as must be the case) much more choosey than it used to be (the old big RAF was a remarkably-broad congregation)

They’ve actually tightened up from the looks of it, it used to be that if you were 4 years clear of medication you could still join (although the odds of aircrew were zilch). I suspect with a falling force size they can afford to be more and more picky.

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Yep, changes over the last few years. As others have mentioned, the RAF can be extremely picky now based on limited aircrew recruitment.

The only “maybe” (& it’s a very big maybe) is to get any original diagnosis reviewed by your GP in order to amend personal medical records. However, from looking through various forums every now & then (Student Room, etc), this seems to be as rare as hen’s teeth!!

Back in the 80’s and early 90’s GPs gave out asthma inhalers like sweeties. From anything for a cold or a chest infection they were being prescribed. I know a few people who fought it based on them being prescribed 1 blue inhaler in there lifetime and managed to get it struck off there records. More recently, proper testing is conducted for a conclusive diagnosis. You can’t get this struck off your records.

For people like me though, I had zero chance and even with the more relaxed rules I can never get in. I know someone who started buying there meds online and from family which is hugely dangerous still failed the spirometry testing as they are actually asthmatic.

You have to be clear for X number of years and a good number of conditions have to be met for entry into the Armed Forces.

I did have a recruiter down last year who said they have started accepting asthmatics, but only for certain roles and obviously people with incredibly mild Asthma. Aircrew in these circumstances it totally out of the question though.

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There is nothing stopping them becoming a pilot in the civilian world though.

fats jet is the only thing unique about the RAF in terms of flying. Ok so the tax payers fund the training, but nothing stopping a wanna-be pilot completing that dream but in a white shirt and corporate tie instead of a grow bag

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Only bucket loads of dosh!!!

Very, very few airlines run a freebie training programme now, it’s all “self-sponsored” pay up front to get the relevant licence, & even then they end up funding their type-rating when they finally get selected for an airline.

Quoted costs for a typical training establishment (L3) to do just the first part in the USA = US$116k. Last time I checked, a cadet entry scheme for easyJet cost about £30k for the type-rating - the pilot would be on a reduced salary for 3(?) years in order to pay back the costs.

So, big loan likely to fund the first part, followed by reduced salary for XX yrs, followed by YY yrs still paying off the original loan…

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The flight schools will just suggest remortgaging mum and dads house, with the house down as collateral…that’s what all 3 I looked at said to me!

As harsh as it sounds if the cadets been diagnosed previously with Asthma they need to be gently advised to think about a new career choice

There are many things in the RAF they are able to do though, with better odds of actually making it in, too.

i don’t deny that

if they are adamant on being a pilot, there are other routes.

if they are adamant on being in the RAF, there are other routes:

And, frankly, being a stick monkey these days isn’t all that good. All you’re doing is negotiating with a computer. And that’s if you actually ever get to fly! MFTS means any prospective pilot spends years wasting time.

Go for an ops support role and be productive early on.

Says I, an ex- ops support brancher…

I read an article the other day in the RAeS magazine suggesting that a 50:50 split of actual flying v simulator flying could become the norm as we try to prevent “the enemy” from watching our tactics from the ground and this could be stretched further to 25:75 in favour of simulated activity.

I’d be amazed if it was that much that was real. Synthetic training is so much cheaper and so much better in recent years.

Unfortunately, anyone with a history of asthma, will not be eligible for aircrew roles. However, should your cadet be interested in other ground positions, the RAF will assess an applicant on a case-by-case basis.

You need to give young people more respect than that. Put them through something where they have no control over the reason or the outcome, all the time building their hopes and letting them down with a “Dear John/Jane”.
May be the case by case system worked 40 years ago when the RAF had more jobs all round, but since options for change through to today with fewer jobs they can be exceptionally picky. If cadets have no medical conditions and meet the educational and other criteria fine, other than that the advice should be go elsewhere for a job.
I was asked to go to school / college careers event recently by work for a local business stand which had ½ dozen companies represented . The RAF careers were next to us and the Sgt on the stand was a bit of an idiot with some of the things he said and never once did he explain about basic and trade training and potential for being binned at each stage, just a picture of fluffy clouds and sunshine. I was less than impressed, but then I’m not an impressionable teenager.

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I’ve been deeply unimpressed with all the AFCO pers I’ve come into contact with recently. A Sgt came to us and was just fixated on telling everyone how they could sit in their room and play CoD all day. Must’ve mentioned it at least 4 times, but didn’t talk about how to actually join our what you’d actually do in a role.

Utter waste of time.


You must have the same lot as us. When they actually bother to turn up to a pre booked visit it’s normally them in civvies and here for a whole 5 mins before escaping.

I haven’t had them down now in 2 years. Waiting for them to move on and try with the next lot.

What utter drivel.

That just shows you know Jack about Service flying!

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