If you have been touched by the FAA in the past, or you are currently in the revolving door of back and forth exchanges with the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, you will appreciate the profound frustration of the process in its current state.
The FAA has not had a steady funding stream through an authorization bill created by Congress for many years. In fact, we are in the midst of another in the long series of short-term funding bills that ends July 15, after which, without either the passage of a reauthorization bill or another short-term funding bill, the FAA bank will run dry. One of the many beneficiaries of this model of government oversight is inefficiency in processing such as what we are currently seeing with deferred medical applications and special issuance recertification.
One of the key reasons AOPA is fighting for third class medical reform is the chronic inability of the FAA to conduct a timely review and issuance of medical certificates to airmen. Granted, 97 percent of medical certificates are issued to pilots by their aviation medical examiners at the time of the FAA physical exam. However, that is little solace for the 30,000 or so airmen each year who are deferred or initially denied certification. The message we try to convey to members is to be armed with the information your AME needs to make an informed decision about issuing your medical or deferring.
Documentation is the key, so in many cases a visit to your treating doctor to obtain a “status letter” regarding any treatment you had may raise questions on your medical application. That one detail alone may be the difference between “being down here wishing you were up there” rather than the other way around.
AOPA has a dedicated staff of medical certification specialists in the Pilot Information Center that can guide you through this maze bureaucracy, preferably before you get caught up in it!