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Pilot Protection Services Medical Mailbag - December Q&APilot Protection Services Medical Mailbag - December Q&A

Warren Silberman

Warren Silberman

  • Former Manager, FAA Aerospace Medical Certification 
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Expert in Aerospace/Preventive Medicine 
  • Pilot since 1986

Jonathan Sackier
Jonathan Sackier

  • Surgeon, Clinical Professor 
  • 30 years of healthcare experience 
  • Author of the “Fly Well” column in AOPA PILOT 
  • Flying since 15 years old, owns a Columbia 400 

QUESTION:  I was taking Adderall for ADHD when I had my Medical and was obviously deferred. I have been off medication for over a year and have undergone two extensive test batteries, both proving my focus, attention, memory, and cognitive function are all in the average to above average range so I function well off medication. What are my chances of getting a medical as I want to start flight training? Will I be prevented from holding a First Class? 

ANSWER: ADHD is widely diagnosed these days because of the wide availability of medication and better physician awareness of the condition. However, this is a condition with a wide spectrum of presentation. Airmen cannot gain medical certification if they are taking any ADHD medication, including Adderall and Ritalin. to include Ritalin.  Having been diagnosed, regardless of methodology, one must undergo neuropsychological testing to demonstrate whether they have/have not truly got ADHD.  It is also critical that the clinical psychologist interpreting the tests be familiar with the proper testing and evaluation required by FAA. Another good time to take advantage of Pilot Protection Services! The psychologist should send the raw test data to FAA along with test results. Many psychologists are wary about sending raw data to anyone but another psychologist so patient consent is necessary and FAA Aeromedical does have  a psychologist working there. If one can gain approval try not to accept a lower class for doing so may cause one to be stuck there for a long time! 

QUESTION: About 18 months ago I suffered an incapacitating episode of vestibular neuritis later confirmed by an neurologist with special expertise in issues with the ear. As a result, I gave up plans to obtain a private pilots license. I recovered within a few days of the episode and there has been no lingering effects that I am aware of. Do you think it would be imprudent to pursue flight training given my medical history?Would I even be able to pass a flight physical? 

ANSWER: Vestibular neuritis implies inflammation of the vestibular nerve which services the inner ear and results in vertigo. If indeed the diagnosis truly was vestibular neuritis, it is possible to gain medical certification as it is usually a self limiting and transitory condition.  You would need to be free from any vertigo symptoms and off any sedating type medications and would also need to make sure you do not have any other pathology. However, if this is deemed to have been Meniere's disease, then the airman must demonstrate one-year without any symptoms.  

I strongly suggest asking AOPA Pilot Protection Services for help in reviewing documents that may be submitted to FAA program as a misstep can cause problems. 

QUESTION: Where can I find the list of FAA approved/disapproved prescriptions drugs for a Class III medical? 

ANSWER: This is a recurring question but a very important one; The medications that the FAA accepts and does not are located within the pages of its Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners. Their policy is that they do not maintain a list of "acceptable" or "unacceptable" medications. However, AOPA maintains a list on our website

Be sure to check with the list, your AME or Pilot Protection Services before taking any new drugs to ensure you will steer clear of problems as often there are alternatives. But first of all, take care of the medical problem that threatens your health! 

Fly Well!  Jonathan & Warren

Jonathan Sackier

Jonathan Sackier

Dr. Jonathan Sackier is an expert in aviation medical concerns and helps members with their needs through the AOPA Pilot Protection Services plan.

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