The FAA last month announced a proposed rule that would require all U.S. pilot certificates to include a photo of the certificate holder. Under the proposal, pilots would obtain a new photo certificate valid for eight years, after which they would need to update their photo and obtain a new certificate.
The requirement for pilots to be certified fit to fly by a medical doctor is a universal feature of aviation regulatory bodies. The International Civil Aviation Organization sets the standard, which individual states can modify. According to ICAO, “To become a professional pilot or an air traffic controller, an applicant must be in normal good health (including normal hearing, normal vision and normal color perception).”
With the U.S. economy vacillating between recession and recovery for most of the year, no one was terribly surprised when the Department of Labor reported that unemployment figures climbed to nearly 6 percent in October. And as a wavering marketplace goes, so too does the use of business aircraft and hence the need for qualified professionals to staff them.
A growing number of aviation medical professionals are questioning pilots’ reliance on their required annual (or, in the case of first-class medicals, six-monthly) medical examinations as their primary source of personal health monitoring.
Suppose your aviation medical examiner (AME) gives you the little piece of paper that proclaims to the FAA that you are fit to fly, but the paperwork never reaches the agency’s Aeromedical Certification Branch in Oklahoma City. Are you legal? Are you liable? While certainly not routine, the situation has cropped up more often than one might think.
Twenty medical conditions that are serious enough to require special issuance (SI) first- and second-class medicals can now be cleared by an aviation medical examiner (AME) after an initial review by the FAA. This means that once the FAA issues an SI medical certificate, pilots can then go to their AMEs for a renewal, provide all of the necessary medical reports and, if the condition has not changed, leave with another valid SI medical.