First Scottish aeromedical centre opens for business
Professional pilots and air traffic controllers will no longer have to travel to southern England for their initial medicals, thanks to the opening of Scotland’s first aeromedical centre.
Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael MP, officially opened the new facility at NATS’ Prestwick air traffic control centre during a reception held today (24 July).
The centre will provide a far greater choice for controllers, pilots and cabin crew, all of whom have to meet strict medical criteria and undergo regular health checks.
Previously, the only Civil Aviation Authority certified centres in the UK were at NATS’ Swanwick control centre in Hampshire and two other providers based near Gatwick Airport.
On opening the centre, Mr Carmichael commented: “I’m very pleased to open the first aeromedical centre in Scotland and I have been very impressed by what I have seen here today. Having such a comprehensive centre here in Scotland offers significant advantages for our aviation community and I hope in the years ahead it will serve many more Scots who want to become pilots, controllers or cabin crew.”
Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, who also attended the opening, added: “The new aeromedical centre is an outstanding facility that will support Scotland’s aviation industry. It is already proving its value and is set to be a huge success.
“As our recent announcement to maintain the Dundee-London Stansted air link showed, this government is committed to helping Scotland’s aviation industry continue to grow as part of our long term economic plan.”
Dr Maged Girgis of NATS Occupational Health and Safety Department has moved north to manage the new centre. He said: “We’re delighted to be able to expand our services into Scotland. It means that those living here who aspire to become professional pilots and air traffic controllers will no longer need to make the long trip to southern England for their initial class 1 and 3 medicals.”
“It is a major benefit, both for our own controllers and the wider aviation community in Scotland.”
Aviation medicals involve a number of health checks, including eye-sight, hearing, and screening for illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Pilots and controllers who fall ill are assessed and then monitored by Aviation Medical Examiners who assist them in returning to work as soon as they are able to do so safely.
The new centre has already won its first commercial contract, providing occupational health services and medicals for staff at Prestwick Airport, including its air traffic controllers and fire-service.
Dr Girgis added: “Our experience of aviation medicine and our close links with hospital specialists means we’re well placed to provide medical services to the rest of the industry.”