It’s Taking Forever To Get My FAA Medical Certificate

  • ON Dec 18, 2018
  • /
  • BY Anthony Ison
  • /
  • IN Pilot Law

It’s not uncommon for airmen with deferred FAA medical applications to find themselves saying: “it’s taking forever to get my FAA medical certificate.” When an airman’s FAA medical application is “deferred” by the Aviation Medical Examiner “AME,” the airman’s FAA medical application is sent to the cold, dark, labyrinth of either the FAA’s Regional Flight Surgeon’s office or the Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City for further evaluation. In some cases, following a denial, a medical application can be sent to the Federal Air Surgeon’s office for further consideration. Unfortunately, in these cases, it’s hard to say how long it will take for the FAA to evaluate your FAA medical application and make a determination as to whether you are eligible to hold a medical certificate. But why does it take so long?

This article doesn’t assume to know every reason why it’s taking forever for you to get your FAA medical certificate. Every case is different. Nevertheless, in practice, there are two main reasons why it takes so long for the FAA to make a determination on a deferred FAA medical application. The first reason is completely out of the airman’s control: backlog. There are a lot of airmen with deferred FAA medical applications and an insufficient staff to keep up with the backlog. So, sometimes, waiting for a file to actually be reviewed by a doctor or analyst adds the biggest delay to an airman’s file review.

The second reason for the delay in getting a FAA medical certificate following deferral is not having adequate medical documentation to support your eligibility to hold a FAA medical certificate. In some cases, your health may legitimately be disqualifying and it may not be possible to provide sufficient medical documentation. In other cases, however, when you don’t send in quality documentation (i.e. documentation that is responsive to the FAA’s requests, evaluations from qualified physicians, etc), this delays the FAA’s review of your application. This usually leads to the FAA requesting additional information and the process, perhaps unnecessarily, dragging on for much longer than is necessary. The key is ensuring at the outset that you’re sending in documentation that is likely to establish your eligibility for FAA medical certification.

If your FAA medical certificate is under review or if you anticipate your FAA medical application being deferred, consult with a knowledgeable FAA medical attorney. An experienced FAA medical attorney can identify the FAA’s policies appropriate to your medical condition and assist with gathering and providing documentation that may aid in your eligibility to hold a medical certificate and potentially cut down on the time it takes to be issued a FAA medical certificate.

Contact your FAA medical attorney at The Ison Law Firm to discuss your FAA medical issues.

*consultation with an attorney is not a guarantee to faster medical certification

Should I Respond to a FAA Letter of Investigation

  • ON Dec 17, 2018
  • /
  • BY Anthony Ison
  • /
  • IN Pilot Law

The first question airmen usually ask when faced with a FAA investigation is, “should I respond to a FAA Letter of Investigation?” The answer to whether you should respond to a FAA Letter of Investigation is actually quite nuanced. In that, the circumstances of every situation will dictate whether a response to a FAA Letter of Investigation is recommended. The key, however, is the knowledge that providing a response to a FAA Letter of Investigation is not required. As such, an answer to a FAA Letter of Investigation may be appropriate in certain situations where you know that providing a response will unequivocally acquit you of the FAA’s accusations.

For example, if the FAA is investigating a flight that you allegedly conducted on March 1st, but you weren’t flying on March 1st because you were in the hospital, you may want to bring that information to the FAA inspector’s attention. On the other hand, in most cases, providing a response will not usually help your situation…more on this herein. But won’t responding to the Letter of Investigation make me look better to the FAA inspector? Won’t the FAA inspector work with me if I just tell him all the details? While it cannot be said that a response to a FAA Letter of Investigation is never appropriate, it is equally hard to say that the FAA inspector, by the time he or she has issued a Letter of Investigation, is really interested in resolving the matter without, at a minimum, an administrative action or certificate action.

So, what’s the worst that could happen if an airman responds to a FAA Letter of Investigation? An admission that an airman makes can and will be used against the airman later on, in the event he or she attempts to appeal a certificate action to the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”). In that, most statements made out of court, which are later offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted, are considered “hearsay” and cannot (or rather, should not) be accepted into evidence.

The trap is that an airman’s statement in response to a FAA Letter of Investigation is an EXCEPTION to the “hearsay” rule under Federal Rule of Evidence 801. In that, an airman’s response to a FAA Letter of Investigation is considered an “opposing party’s statement” or a “party admission.” As such, anything that may be admitted in a response to a FAA Letter of Investigation is likely to be admitted into evidence by the NTSB Administrative Law Judge and weighed against your credibility as a witness or even make it easier for the FAA to prove their case.

While the FAA’s new Compliance Philosophy encourages a “transparent” attitude, usually by the time you’ve received a Letter of Investigation, the airman should carefully consider whether the FAA inspector has any intention of utilizing the Compliance Philosophy. As such, it is imperative that when you receive a FAA Letter of Investigation, you should receive contact a FAA defense attorney to evaluate your response and determine the best course of action.

If you’ve received a FAA Letter of Investigation, contact The Pilot Lawyer at The Ison Law Firm. The Pilot Lawyer is standing by to vector you through legal turbulence.