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The fifteen specifically disqualifying medical conditions

Warren Silberman

Warren Silberman

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

You all should know that there are two types of waivers that the FAA can issue. One called a Statement of Demonstrated Ability, or SODA for short, is issued for conditions that are stable such as a one-eyed (monocular vision) pilot, and generally require a “medical flight test” (MFT). This test is usually given by an Aviation Safety Inspector at your local Flight Standards District Office (or FSDO). The other type of waiver is a Special Issuance Authorization that is given for conditions that can change over time, an example being diabetes.  For these conditions,  airmen provide evaluations and tests to demonstrate that they are safe. These are reviewed at the FAA's Aerospace Medical Certification Division or Regional Medical Offices and waiver letters (Authorization Letters) are issued. The medical certificates that the airman receives are generally time-limited as the airman must redemonstrate with regular testing that they are safe to fly..   

Here is the list of “mandatory disqualifying conditions:     

  1. Angina Pectoris
  2. Bipolar Disorder
  3. Coronary artery disease that has required treatment or is symptomatic
  4. Diabetes Mellitus that requires insulin or oral medications for treatment
  5. Disturbance of Consciousness without adequate explanation
  6. Epilepsy
  7. Heart transplant
  8. Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  9. Permanent Cardiac Pacemaker
  10. Personality disorder manifested by overt acts
  11. Psychosis
  12. Substance abuse
  13. Substance dependence
  14. Transient loss of nervous system function
  15. Valve replacement

The FAA will grant a special issuance for the majority of those conditions. Please check the AOPA medical certification website or call the folks at AOPA to get an answer to a specific question about any of these conditions.  

For more information on the AOPA Pilot Protection Services program, visit

Dr. Warren Silberman is the former manager of FAA Aerospace Medical Certification and a doctor of osteopathic medicine. A pilot since 1986, he is recognized nationally as an expert in aerospace/preventative medicine, and is a regular writer for AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services.

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Fellow members, your AMEs should know exactly what these conditions are, but I am here to let you all in on them!  Part 67.401 in simple English says that if an airman has a specifically disqualifying medical condition the pilot must demonstrate to the Federal Air Surgeon that he/she is safe to fly for the duration of that medical certificate.  In order to demonstrate this, the airman may need to provide evaluations and testing. Once the airman is granted a waiver, they must re-demonstrate that they are safe to fly at regular intervals. 

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