Deaf Pilots - Safe or Not

Alright this might be interesting debate. As you can see from my username, I’m deaf. I’m also aviation fanatic, but being deaf preventing me from being able to be a pilot on airliner. However, being deaf doesn’t prevent me from flying a general aviation planes as long I fly under uncontrolled condition or with a hearing co-pilot in controlled condition. What I want to know from you is this sitting with you well. Are deaf pilots truly capable of piloting a plane safely from A to B?

There are couple of links to information on deaf pilots below.

Deaf Pilots Association
http://www.deafpilots.org/questions/

FAA
https://www.faa.gov/pilots/become/deaf_pilot/certification/

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By the way, I don’t have pilot license yet nor I’m taking any class right now. I had couple of deaf people encouraging me to get pilot license and plane. I’m not quite comfortable with flying a plane with me being deaf because I know there is strict rules for aviation traffic.

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Yes. Maybe not flying an A-320 with 145 pax on board out of JFK,

Don’t take offense to that,
I don’t mean to be rude when saying so
but flying GA in a smaller/less populated airspace would be fine with a copilot that can respond to ATC if in a controlled airspace, or if you fly under an uncontrolled airspace.

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If you get the training you could be able to fly, the only issue is is that if your deaf, if your captain tells you to do something and you can’t here it. It could result in a fatal miscumnacation issue. But in GA your probably fine, I just would be aware that making it to a Boeing 787-9 is probably unlikely. But anything can happen! You might be one of the first commercial pilot that is deaf!

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Don’t worry about offending me or not. I just want to hear opinions on this topic. I know I absolutely cannot fly an airliner larger than general aviation planes since it would fly in controlled airspace and require hearing pilots to handle the communication with traffic controllers.

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How deaf are you? Like can you hear anything at all and is it possible for you to use hearing aids or something?

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I am not sure but as far as I know, as long as there is another person in the flight deck, they can communicate with ATC when necessary while you fly the plane. Its just a matter of agreeing how to communicate with that person. It may be through small note papers or using gestures…

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MaxSez: My Uncle who passed was deaf from birth. He held a Limited Sports Pilot Ticket for years. A co-owner of a Cub he had 7000 hours before he took that final high flight. He operated from a dirt strip FBO he operated in NJ. An avid sportsman nothing stopped him. Don’t sweet the petty stuff @Deaf go for it. There is no mountain to high, where there’s a will there’s a way!

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I can hear fire alarm or any high pitch sound like girl’s laugh, but it has to be loud and I need to be close to source to hear it. Basically, it’s close to 100% deaf, I can go couple of weeks or even months without hearing anything. I do have hearing aids that I should have been wearing during my childhood so I would be able to learn how to speak. I refused to do so because I was being a brat who didn’t like anything that is inconvenient. I regret it now.

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It’s cool to hear that you have a deaf relative. Have you flown with him couple of times? If so, how did he handle his flight? Was there any issue that he had to face like filling out more paperworks?

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@Deaf… Never flew with him, I was just a kid. Hung around the field, my Aunt was his voice. He thought me and my cousin to fish by demonstration. I overcame my natural fear of those who where impaired via his grace. Lov’d the guy. Max

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Well, this is a very interesting situation and thank you immensely for sharing this with the community.
From my personal stand point, I don’t see any issue with a deaf / hearing impaired pilot in GA at all, or even in commercial aviation with a pilot/co-pilot. There are multiple systems in place these days, including ADS-B, that assists aviators in collision avoidance, traffic detection, ATC instructions and other issues that can arise from a pilot being distracted, deaf or any of the plethora of reasons for a pilot to not be fully aware and cognizant of the situation. Although a lot of GA aircraft do not have ADS-B since it is not currently required until 2020 and only if the aircraft is operating in certain airspace:

Class A, B, and C airspace.
Class E airspace within the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia at and above 10,000 feet MSL, excluding the airspace at and below 2,500 feet above the surface.
Class E airspace at and above 3,000 feet MSL over the Gulf of Mexico from the coastline of the United States out to 12 nautical miles.
Around those airports identified in 14 CFR part 91, Appendix D
https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/programs/adsb/faq/

All of this being pointed out, I think that being deaf or hearing impaired is fine for a GA pilot or for even a commercial pilot under the right circumstances. There are so many advances in safety systems these days that I can’t imagine not having pilots with impairments taking to the skies every day.

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The catch 21 here is that deaf pilots can’t hold a commercial license as dictated by the FAA. We’re restricted to sport and uncontrolled airfields, as Max mentioned earlier.

I so badly want to live up to my dreams of being an air traffic controller or maybe even a pilot, but the technology today still isn’t up to scratch to allow this. Not enough airfields or operations in the U.S have Data Comm or ADS-B installed yet. And, I’m fairly sure the FAA won’t ever be considering dropping the hearing requirement in case those systems fail.

If I had to lose an arm to work ATC, I would. It’s my passion, but this disability is stopping me.

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Without a doubt your are absolutely correct. As things stand now with the current level of technology deployed and the FAA’s current stance on the matter, it is not going to happen. My post was simply my opinion dashed with a bit of data. I hope nobody took it as fact or rule or offensively. ☺️ I sympathize with your plight and all others that share this unfortunate state. But I’m still of the opinion that it can be made safe enough for a person with hearing loss to be a pilot or even ATC (under the right conditions). My hope is that one day, the situation will change so that you and so many others like yourself can fully enjoy their passion for aviation.

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They have 12 years left to do it. The hiring cutoff for trainees is 30 years old, as they want to recoup their investment in your training before mandatory retirement at 56.

It’s an unfortunate and terrifying position to be in. Well wishers continuously say you can do what you can do to follow your dreams, but most people outside of the aviation industry don’t realize that this kind of job is extremely specific and makes it impossible to give exceptions.

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It seems like a short time, but, technology is moving fast these days. Think about this, the first iPhone was introduced 10 years ago. Compare it to the newest iteration of iPhone. I’m not saying that to give false hope, I’m just saying that we live in a world where ideas that were impossible once can, and often do, become possible. The timeframe may or may not work out for us individually. However, collectively we all win when that day arrives and the dream that you share with so many other individuals finally becomes reality. 😊

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I’m for anything that doesn’t impact the safety of those around us.

That being said, I will not get in a plane piloted by @JoshFly8, have you seen his “landings”? ! Lol

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I speak ASL as I went to college for that. Like many others have said above in the right co ditiouns your wings are there for you to put on and fly!

tbh, being deaf just means you can’t hear the call outs and engine failures. You can always see them on your pannel and by simply looking out a window and using your depth perception. I think really the minimum you should have is one eye. You can not perceive depth but you can use the panel to give you info on everything.

Good luck on becoming a pilot. I am sure you can be a great pilot despite being deaf.

You don’t speak ASL, you sign ASL. 🤗

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