September 9, 2013
By Gary Crump
For those who are members of Pilot Protection Services, we at AOPA really hope and expect that you are receiving good value for the dollars you pay over and above your basic membership dues. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about value in the context of the real world of airman medical certification at this time.
As many of you who have interacted with the FAA aeromedical system are aware, it is, well, first, a governmental regulatory bureaucracy. Inherently governmental processes, such as certifying aviators’ medical fitness to fly, are not efficient under the very best of times. When there are outside consequences, whether unintended or not, that further interfere with the “relative efficiency” of the process, delays are longer, pilots are unable to perform their duties, whether flying professionally or not, they can’t get an informed updates on when their case will be approved.
The FAA had some major disruptions late in the winter and early spring that created a summer that those of us who work in this FAA “line of business” would all agree was one of the worst ever for delays. Some of us also agree that the FAA seems to be moving toward a more conservative approach in its review of more complicated medical histories.
All this brings me back to the point of PPS. AOPA’s Pilot Information Center has specialists who “speak airplane medical,” and it is that in-house staff and reinforced by the superb expertise of our aeromedical consultant, Dr. Warren Silberman, who ran the Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City for 15 years. With the importance of maintaining a medical certificate, or making the decision to “self-assess” to fly as a sport pilot, which requires that your most recent medical application wasn’t denied, there is so much sense in not wading into the bureaucracy unprepared. I may be a little biased, but in my mind, investing the few extra dollars for the access to the medical expertise we can provide is one of best bargains of AOPA membership.
Call us if you have any questions about your current or next medical certification encounter, and fly safe!
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.
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