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Home > Becoming a Pilot > What can an airline pilot do if he is medically grounded?
What can an airline pilot do if he is medically grounded?
Pilot Career - Becoming a Pilot
Monday, 26 May 2008 07:44

Hello Captain Lim,

I have this question that bugs me when I think about my future.

I am thinking... if let's say, I'm now an airline pilot but due to medical reason, I have no choice but to quit my job as a pilot. Say by that time, I would be 40 years old. What can I do?

And let's say, I have a mechanical engineering degree. By the time I am 40 years old, I would definitely not be competitive enough to compete with fresh graduates - hence decreasing my chance to secure a job. Does that mean that I can then do nothing?

In brief, what are the alternatives for pilots who are forced to quit their job due to medical reasons? What are the chances of them getting a new job? (since their working experiences are only limited to the cockpit.)

I really need to know the answer of this question as it has a lot to do with my future.

I would appreciate it if you can enlighten me on this...

Thanks a lot.


Yee Shiuan

Hi Yee Shiuan,

Yes, this question is of concern to many aspiring pilots who used to ask similarly in the past, "What would happen if I couldn't fly anymore?"

Well, while pilots cannot always prevent the unexpected, pilots associations or unions (some airlines disallow unions) are aware of this issue and continue to fight for better compensation.

Pilots are highly qualified professionals who have undertaken years of hard work and incurred considerable cost to obtain their flying licenses. So when medical disability threatens their career, they are well protected by the loss of license insurances as part of their employment contract.

The loss of license insurance is specially meant to provide financial help to pilots in preparation for an alternative career if their aviation career is brought to an abrupt end by accident or illness.

A pilot who is grounded will either be paid a lump sum but has the option of claiming monthly disability payment. My previous airline insured me RM$430,000.00 (I believe SIA is more) for the loss of my license but I never lost my license Smile!

That is a good tidy sum to start on a new business or continue with your career as a mechanical engineer at the age of 40! What more do you want? From my experience, the number of pilots who lost their licenses through medical disability is very low and the insurance companies make sure that all avenues in the form of treatment have been exhausted before they pay you the money!

You are lucky because you have your mechanical engineering degree to fall back on notwithstanding your loss years in the form of experiences. However, an experienced grounded pilot who is an instructor is well sought after today. You can read this related FAQ What can an ex-airline pilot do after retirement?  

Hope this clears any concern about your future plan to be an airline pilot...


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the guy above used a rare case to make it sound like each pilot is rolling in protection. don't believe it quite so easily.
for example,,, why did he say, "his last airline..."?

pilots are often forced to accept jobs that would not do squat.
rob , 26 May, 2010
Hi captain lim,

I needed to know the insurance companies
That SIA, jet star etc use to get the loss of
License cover .

Thanks & appreciate it .
Best, Dev
Dev , 21 Sep, 2011

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