More than 450,000 joint replacements are performed annually in the United States. But worries about FAA medical certification can make the decision to have a joint replaced more stressful for pilots. Rest assured, it's possible - and easier than you think - to get back in the left seat.
Take, for example, Erik Lindbergh, the grandson of Charles Lindbergh and AOPA's Project Pilot spokesman. Lindbergh was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 21 and was unable to walk by age 30. He had both knees replaced and just a few years later recreated his grandfather's transatlantic flight.
The FAA allows first, second, and third class medical certification after a joint replacement. Give your aviation medical examiner (AME) copies of your medical records - your hospital admission history and discharge summary, along with a report of your operation and current status report from your treating physician regarding any limitations to physical abilities.
If you aren't using any disqualifying pain medication and have a good range of motion, the AME can issue your medical certificate right then.
To learn what paperwork you need to give the AME, contact AOPA's medical specialists (telephone 800/872-2672 or e-mail).
November 30, 2006