Pi­lot with HIV makes his­tory as ca­reer at Glas­gow air­line begins

Evening Times - - NEWS - BY TOM TOR­RANCE

AMAN said to be the first HIV-pos­i­tive per­son to train as a com­mer­cial air pi­lot in Europe has be­gun his fly­ing ca­reer, en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers with the con­di­tion to “fol­low their dreams”.

James Bushe has com­pleted his train­ing with Loganair and will reg­u­larly fly jets from the air­line’s base at Glas­gow Air­port.

The 31-year-old from Stoke-onTrent had orig­i­nally been de­nied the chance be­cause of his HIV sta­tus.

But a cam­paign led by the charity HIV Scot­land re­ceived wide­spread sup­port and prompted the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (CAA) to change the rules in the UK and grant Mr Bushe the med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate he re­quired to fly.

Mr Bushe, who has de­tailed his jour­ney on­line us­ing the Twit­ter pseu­do­nym Pi­lot An­thony, said: “I am proud, to­tally over­whelmed and so grate­ful to Loganair.

“But this is not just about me – it’s about any­one liv­ing with HIV who can now be­come a pi­lot.

“My hope now is that it trig­gers ac­tion not just in the UK but in the rest of Europe.

“Any­one who has felt re­stricted by the con­di­tion, who is in my sit­u­a­tion, can now fol­low their dreams. The sit­u­a­tion was not only dis­crim­i­na­tory but ut­terly dev­as­tat­ing to some­one whose only wish since child­hood was to be­come an air­line pi­lot.”

Mr Bushe, who was di­ag­nosed with HIV five years ago, be­gan learn­ing to fly small air­craft from the age of 15.

He was at first de­nied the chance to take up a train­ing po­si­tion as an air­line pi­lot when the CAA said it was bound to fol­low the rules laid down by the Euro­pean reg­u­la­tor, the Euro­pean Avi­a­tion Safety Au­thor­ity (EASA).

It stated peo­ple liv­ing with HIV had to have a Class 1 med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate – with an ad­di­tion called an Op­er­a­tional Multi-crew Lim­i­ta­tion (OML) – to be­come an air­line pi­lot.

The only way to ob­tain that ac­cred­i­ta­tion would be to al­ready have a com­mer­cial fly­ing li­cence that al­lowed train­ing as a co-pi­lot along­side a train­ing cap­tain.

The CAA later changed the rules in the UK and granted Mr Bushe the nec­es­sary med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate.

Since Novem­ber, he has been fly­ing along­side Loganair train­ing cap­tains and is now qual­i­fied to reg­u­larly fly the air­line’s Em­braer 145 re­gional jets.

Loganair chief ex­ec­u­tive Jonathan Hin­kles said: “Be­fore James com­pleted his train­ing we had 270 ex­cel­lent pi­lots. We now have 271.

“HIV is not a bar to em­ploy­ment in other in­dus­tries and there is no rea­son why it should be so in avi­a­tion.”

The CAA said it was pleased to see Mr Bushe start his ca­reer.

A cam­paign to change the law has al­lowed James Bushe to ful­fil his dreams

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