Deferred medical backlog hits new low

May 25, 2006

Deferred medical backlog hits new low
AOPA initiatives help make process more efficient

Good news for pilots whose medical certificates have been deferred: The FAA's Aerospace Medical Certification Division has greatly reduced its deferred medical backlog to about 45 days.

The FAA made the announcement last week at the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) meeting in Orlando, Florida. AsMA, an international organization composed of civilian and military aerospace medicine specialists, covers issues such as medical standards, aging pilots, and the effects of flight on the body.

"As the FAA continues to fine tune its medical certification process, we're finally starting to see AOPA's advocacy pay off," said Gary Crump, director of AOPA's medical certification department. "Expanded aviation medical examiner privileges through AOPA initiatives like the AME-Assisted Special Issuance (AASI) program have played a key role in reducing the backlog."

AOPA has been a longtime advocate of expanded AME privileges. AASI allows pilots who have certain medical histories to get their medical certificate renewed by an AME once the FAA has reviewed the case and authorized a special issuance.

Currently, AMEs can reissue special issuances for 35 medical conditions, including several cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.

Now, thanks to AOPA's efforts, the FAA is encouraging AMEs to contact their regional flight surgeon or the Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to inquire about certain medical conditions and, in some cases, receive approval to issue the certificate over the phone.

Previously, AMEs had been told to just defer the medical application.

"The FAA has made a tremendous improvement in reducing the deferred medical backlog, compared to where it was last year," Crump said. "But there is still room to improve, and AOPA will continue working with the FAA to streamline the process for our members."

May 25, 2006