Pilot medical applications center of congressional investigation

March 27, 2007

Pilot medical applications center of congressional investigation

On March 27, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) charged the FAA with developing a system to identify fraud and to periodically spot-check medical applications for false information. He also called for a hearing on the subject later this spring.

"AOPA does not condone pilots who make false statements or omit known disqualifying medical conditions on their medical application," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "But we do want to ensure that pilots who make unintentional omissions on the application do not face FAA enforcement actions or criminal charges."

This action comes from a 2005 investigation in which the Inspector General's Office cracked down on Northern California pilots who had allegedly provided false information on their FAA medical certificate application. The pilots were being investigated for possibly covering up the fact that they were receiving disability checks for disqualifying medical conditions. This resulted in the U.S. Attorney's Office prosecuting more than 40 cases.

The report says that pilots who are physically or mentally unfit pose a danger to themselves, other pilots in the air, and those on the ground.

"Pilot incapacitation is very rare," said Gary Crump, AOPA director of medical certification, "not only because the FAA has rigorous medical standards, but also because diligent pilots ground themselves if they feel that they cannot safely act as pilot in command."

According to statistics from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, medical incapacitation accounted for .25 percent of general aviation accidents and 1.03 percent of fatal GA accidents from 1995 to 2004.

"AOPA offers many resources to help pilots understand the FAA's medical requirements, including issues associated with disqualifying conditions," said Crump.

AOPA medical certification experts are available weekdays to help members successfully through the medical process. Simply call 800/872-2672 or e-mail pilotassist@aopa.org. AOPA's interactive TurboMedical online form is an important tool available for pilots to comply with the FAA's safety medical standards.

"Nevertheless, there is no excuse for pilots who falsify their medical applications," Boyer said.

March 27, 2007