Rare Pneumonia now a possible discharge!

Are you sitting comfortably...? I shall try and abbreviate.
I have been in the mob five years as a trainee helicopter pilot.
18 months ago I had a bad cough that was passed off as viral for several weeks. (At exactly the same time a course mate of mine had a cough with the same symptoms, saw a different doctor who gave him a course of antibiotics and his cough was resolved within a week). I went on to develop a wheeze and insisted on a second opinion. I was put on antibiotics straight away by the second MO. Too little too late, I had developed asthma that required a steroid inhaler. I also developed nasal polyps. 15 months later I was hospitalised for a rare form of pneumonia (eosinophilic) and have, last week, been told that it is chronic and will mean the end of my flying career, probably the end of my Naval career.

I have two issues, primarily I want to prove that I am still fit to fly (I know it may not sound it but I actually flew through the illness for some time). It seems silly that just because they want to give me a formal diagnosis that I am all of a sudden unfit!
Does anybody have any advice on appealing/preparing a case ahead of a med board? Are there any services such as support for such a situation?
Secondly if I am 'ousted' is there any 'impartial' legal advice offered on compensation or do I seek that privately?

Thanks in advance.
Unless things have changed I think only a doctor who specialises in aviation may deem an individual fit to fly. That was certainly the case for me when I was grounded for a similar problem. (I was front line - grounded for just short of six months).


War Hero
Firstly, a highly emotive topic & I'd be equally hacked-off if I'd served 5 years as a trainee pilot without achieving trained status & then face dismissal for a medical condition I felt was incorrectly treated & directly attributed to someone else. There are always at least two sides to any story, the tip is to try and second guess how the other sides view it. We eagerly await a thread started by a Woo D.O. who cannot wait to get shut of his 'problem child' and is likewise asking for a few pointers ;-P

Your divisional system should give you all the professional "in-service" help & advice required with regard your situation - if they aren't - start making waves, it is their job.

Secondly, before you read my comments further I'm neither medically qualified to advise, have no first hand aircrew experience and am not an apologist for the service. I'm a former CPOMEM(M) - 22 yrs & a Careers Adviser -11 years, not a woo.

Thirdly, just playing Devil's Advocate and hopefully helping give a few pointers along the way with regard satisfying the obvious questions a board or appeal may throw-up:

Sickness Aside - why has it taken 5 years to still not achieve trained Aircrew status?

Will the employability board be able use your service history against the probability of your achieving your stated goal, despite sickness?

Do you have any undeclared medical history of asthma with you civilian GP - or was it purely a result of not being given the correct treatment at the correct time? Can you produce a lifelong record from your civilian GP which indicates no asthma history?

Can you produce copies of the medical notes of both your course mate and yourself to demonstrate you both had exactly the same condition?

Do you have any case studies of currently serving Pilots who continued to serve after being diagnosed with an asthma severe enough to warrant the issue of a steroidal inhaler?

As most are aware, anecdotal evidence is of zero use, you need documented evidence.

Once (and if) you leave the service there are a variety of support networks for help during an appeal, compensation and suchlike, but whilst serving you have to follow the laid down procedures.

Good luck.
Thanks both.
I can happily answer all those Q's.

5 years has sadly been due to the Defence Review. Lots of holding between courses (about 26 months in all). One thing that stands in my favour is that 'they' allowed me to fly temporarily to finish my course and gain my wings.
This kind of answers your second question. I have a good service history with no warnings throughout my training. I don't think they could now doubt that I would go front line if declared fit.
I had no previous symptoms of asthma before I joined. However, proving the asthma was as a direct result of negligence will be difficult. I only have my colleague to compare this too. I'm sure he would grant the board access to his records if required.
I have been flying with the asthma alone for the past 18 months using the inhaler so I don't anticipate this being the key issue. It's more likely to be the probably of the pneumonia returning. (Estimated at 1 in 3). If it returns, it would be treated with a short course of steroids anyway.
Sadly, and this may surprise you, I am not part of a strong divisional system. I have a. 'Pipeline manager' but that's it.

Thanks again.


War Hero
I honestly didn't realise aircrew, one of our most valuable assets, were messed about so much by the SDSR. That'll be the same SDSR that forced the redundancy of hundreds of AETs only for the service to write to them to ask if they'd like to rejoin. What a complete cluster!

Best of luck to you.

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