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A conundrum

Pilots, regulate yourselves

When does a medical condition become reportable to the FAA? That’s a good question.

As is often the case, the answer is “it depends.” Federal aviation regulations specify 15 medical conditions that are “specifically disqualifying” because they are codified, or written specifically into the medical standards found in Part 67.

These conditions require a special issuance authorization, but the FAA has the discretion to time limit or special issuance any medical condition that could progress and produce symptoms, which could lead to impairment or incapacitation.

So, can a pilot with a medical condition that isn’t in the Part 67 list continue to fly after being diagnosed with condition “x”? The FAA viewpoint is that any condition for which the agency would require a special issuance should be treated successfully first, then reported to the FAA by the pilot when the condition is stable.

But how is the average pilot to know what the FAA considers a special issuance condition? Therein lies the conundrum. However, there is another regulation that all pilots must adhere to anytime they get in the airplane to leave the ground. FAR 61.53 places the burden on the pilot to determine before each flight that he or she does not have a medical deficiency that makes them unable to meet the medical requirements for the pilot operation.

AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services knows that your pilot and medical certificates mean everything to you. Our trusted attorneys and medical certification specialists are here to protect them when things don’t go as planned. We’re proud to help 72,000 AOPA members stay in the air.


The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association annual member meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at AOPA headquarters, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland, 21701, located on the Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), for the purpose of electing trustees. AOPA’s CEO will also give a report/update on the state of general aviation.

While not required, if you plan to attend we would appreciate your RSVP to [email protected]. If you are not able to attend, but would like to appoint your voting proxy, please visit or use the QR code below. You may also do so by calling 1-800-872-2672.  

—Justine A. Harrison, Secretary

Portrait of Gary Crump, AOPA's director of medical certification with a Cessna 182 Skylane at the National Aviation Community Center.
Frederick, MD USA
Gary Crump
Gary is the Director of AOPA’s Pilot Information Center Medical Certification Section and has spent the last 32 years assisting AOPA members. He is also a former Operating Room Technician, Professional Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician, and has been a pilot since 1973.

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