Cleared for takeoff after joint replacement surgery

February 7, 2012

Gary Crump

Gary Crump

  • Director, AOPA Medical Certification Services 
  • 25 years assisting AOPA members 
  • Former operating room technician and Emergency Medical Technician 
  • Pilot since 1973

Joint replacement surgery is commonplace now, with total knee and hip replacements being among the most frequently performed procedures. Actually, there isn’t a lot required by the FAA when you report the surgery on your next medical application.

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A copy of the operative report and a current status update, preferably from your orthopedic surgeon, will suffice in most cases, and your aviation medical examiner can reissue a medical certificate at the time of the exam as long as you have evidence of good recovery, including no pain requiring prescription medications, and adequate range of motion.

Prior to reporting on the medical application, you may resume exercising your privileges on your current, unexpired medical certification once you are cleared by your doctor for normal activities and can comply with FAR 61.53, which states that you must have no medical deficiency that makes you unable to meet the requirements for your current medical certificate.

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Gary Crump