Seek And You Shall Find

Like so many things in life, the internet is a wonderful tool for making us appear to be smarter than we really are. It is the gateway to an instant education on a subject that may be completely foreign to us. 

Web searches are great, but sometimes the information may not be exactly what you need or may not be accurate! I know, it is shocking and surprising, but life is full of surprises! Our medical certification specialists in the Pilot Information Center take lots of calls from you, our members, and many of those calls involve some quite interesting and unusual medical conditions, so the likelihood of getting a curve ball situation come our way is not uncommon. We use the web quite a bit too while on those more interesting calls to get that quick education to understand more about the medical condition and what the FAA is likely going to need to support a certification decision.

The downside to all this abundance of information is what we all know; sometimes the information is just pure garbage. And in the business of flying that we are all part of, inaccurate or incomplete information can often result in a long wait for the issuance of a medical, or, even worse, a denial of medical certification.

A common scenario is when members call us after they have done the dutiful “Google it” search and have garnered a nugget or two from some anonymous “reliable source.” The search results are often conflicting or don’t really cover the topic in the detail that’s needed and just add to the confusion. Everyone has a story, and no two stories are alike. Hopefully, you will find your way to us so we can get you back on track. We work with the FAA directly or indirectly and to the extent possible, stay on top of medical certification policies and procedures. That frequent oversight allows us to accurately advise members about what is needed for their medical condition, what to expect from the FAA, and about how long the process will take to play out.

In addition to our “human resources” specialists, we also have an extensive website presence for those who prefer to do that online search. Our information is accurate and reflects current policies and procedures. Medical subject reports link directly to the FAA’s Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners. The guide is a robust tool used by Aviation Medical Examiners to assist the AME in determining if a medical can be issued at the time of exam, or if not, what information the FAA will need to determine your eligibility

Additionally, there are experienced AMEs and private companies who also offer consulting services for difficult cases that require special issuance. If you’re reading this, though, your first call should be to our PIC medical certification staff for guidance before you start down the road with the FAA. Once you have submitted a medical application, MedXPress, and your aviation medical examiner has opened your application with the confirmation number, the application is active and becomes part of an “investigation” to determine that you are in fact eligible for that medical certificate. If your medical is issued in the office, congratulations! Over 95% of medical applications result in an office issuance by the AME. The other 5% that are deferred translates to a potentially long delay before the FAA makes a determination. A call to us can save you months of delays if you wander off the airway.

No one can expedite the FAA’s action on your application, but there are steps you can take to minimize the wait time if you are deferred. We can walk you through that process with a quick call to us at 800 872 2672.

Enjoy the fall weather while it lasts, get your flu shot, and fly safe!

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.
Topics: Pilot Protection Services

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