Good news for heart patients

December 14, 2005

Good news for heart patients
AMEs to be able to reissue special issuance medicals for heart conditions

Good news for heart patients

The Federal Air Surgeon has told AOPA that soon aviation medical examiners (AMEs) will be permitted to reissue third class medical certificates for pilots with cardiovascular conditions, including coronary artery disease, bypass surgery, angioplasty, and stent placement, under the AME Assisted Special Issuance (AASI) program. These conditions are among 15 new ones that will be added to the existing 20 that premiered with the AASI program in 2002.

"This is another progressive step for the FAA, and great news for AOPA members who have heart conditions and must go through the time-consuming, and often frustrating, special issuance process each year. Starting in early 2006, they can take the required medical documentation to their AME and have their medical reissued in the office," said Gary Crump, AOPA director of medical certification. "AASI was the FAA's response to an AOPA Board of Aviation Medical Advisors proposal dating back to 2001."

Using AASI can speed and simplify your medical recertification.

The first time you report a medical condition that is disqualifying, you will need to provide complete medical documentation to the FAA before you have an FAA physical exam. After the FAA reviews the medical records and clears your case, you will receive a letter authorizing your AME to conduct a physical examination and issue a medical certificate if you are found otherwise qualified.

This authorization letter may be valid for up to six years, but you will still be required to provide your AME with periodic medical reports confirming that your condition is unchanged. The authorization letter will also detail exactly what information is needed for continued certification and the time frame in which that information will need to be submitted.

"This means that after you receive authorization from the FAA, for up to the next six years, you can provide your AME with the required information—as long as your medical condition does not change—and leave your AME's office that day with your medical certificate in hand," Crump said.

AMEs can reissue first, second, and third class AASI medical certificates for the existing 20 medical conditions. When the expanded program takes effect, though, AMEs will be able to reissue only a third class certificate for the new cardiac conditions.

AOPA will release the additional new medical conditions that are approved for AASI once the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine confirms them.

If your AME is not familiar with the AASI Program, have him or her contact AOPA's medical specialists to learn more. The specialists can be reached weekdays by calling 800/USA-AOPA from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time.

December 14, 2005