The shifting sands of medical certification policy

April 30, 2013

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

As Dr. Warren Silberman has mentioned, the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine recently announced changes to several policies regarding certification of certain cardiac conditions. The FAA invests considerable staff time in reviewing the current medical literature and seeking input from its specialist consultants to establish appropriate evidence-based medical certification policy. However, it has been quite a while since we have seen so much activity that will have a bearing on a number of different medical conditions, and as a result, will have a positive impact on a number of airmen who currently hold special issuance authorizations.

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Silberman points out some of those cardiac changes, including a reduction in the time an airman has to wait after a percutaneous coronary stent from six months to three. Also, people who have had two cardiac valves replaced may now be considered for special issuance for the first time. And the testing required for continued special issuance is being modified for the better as well. These changes are being finalized as of this writing, so as soon as we have the official publication of the changes in the online Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners, you will begin to see the new procedures in our online medical information reports. We will probably see more of these kinds of changes coming in the near future that should reduce some of the hurdles for people seeking to obtain or maintain a special issuance authorization. We’ll talk more about those changes as they are announced by the FAA.

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Gary Crump, AOPA’s director of medical certification, is a former operating room technician and emergency medical technician who has been assisting AOPA members for more than 25 years. He’s also a medical expert for AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services and has been flying since 1973.

Gary Crump