Real Answers from Real Pilots

First Class Physical for Airlines Requirement Question regarding ankle surgery

I had ankle fusion surgery back in 2016. It was done by a professional doctor/surgeon. They just opened up my ankle during surgery, scraped out the bad cartilage, then put 3 pretty long screws/bolts into my ankle. 2 side by side coming down from the calf into the heel, and one going from the heel towards the toes. I can rotate the ankle but it does not have much flexibility, no pain, doctor says I can do work, even lift up to 40-50 no issues. It feels pretty strong muscle tissue-wise even though there is metal/steel in them. it feels pretty good actually.

So, my question is, in regards to the First-Class physical needed for the requirement for flying at Major Airlines is that “Does an ankle fusion prevent a pilot from getting a medical certificate required for flying at a Major Airline?”

Thanks, i appreciated everyone’s answers on this subject.

Brian,

We’re always hesitant to answer medical questions as we’re pilots and not Dr’s. Ultimately you’ll need to speak to an AME (Aviation Medical Examiner). Question 18 on the application asks about your medical history including any surgeries. The examiner will then assess the results and decide if it’s an area of concern, something that needs an FAA deferment or is nothing. If pain isn’t an issue I believe the only issue would be range of motion as it pertains to rudder manipulation but again I’m not a Dr.

I recommend you consult an AME nearby before you even apply for your medical and ask their thoughts.

Adam

Brian,

Our other mentor, Chris has had multiple ankle surgeries. He’ll be able to share his experience with you, but ultimately it will come down to what an AME says. If they say that you can hold a first class medical, then it just comes down to your abilities to meet the same criteria that every pilot is expected to meet per the Practical Test Standards/Airman Certification Standards.

Tory

Brian,

I have had significant work done to my right ankle, but never a fusion. You need to speak to a FAA Medical Examiner to get clarification on this. This will probably involve having to schedule an appointment to see the Medical Examiner.

Chris

Ok Chris, thanks for the help!

Ok thanks Tory for the advice!

Ok Adam, thanks for the support!

I broke my fibula pretty bad in 2010. It required surgery and I now have a plate and 10 screws in my leg. My leg feels good now, I can play sports, squat, etc.

I was rejected at MEPS for the Air Force in 2012 (I disclosed on the FAA questionnaire)

The AME just asked about my ankle, I demonstrated some motion. I believe he measured the scar from the incision but it really wasn’t a big deal at all. I walked out with my 1st class medical that day. Good luck

Man Torin, you just perfectly answered my question! Thank for everything!

Thanks so much guys! Everyone’s answers have been very informative and very helpful. I can almost say that meeting fellow pilots and trainees just makes me feel like I belong in a community. Aviation is something new that I’m considering and I think I made the perfect choice. Everyone is just like me! :slight_smile:

Thanks all again!