Can I Get a FAA Medical Certificate with a TBI?

  • ON Mar 03, 2021
  • /
  • BY Anthony Ison
  • /
  • IN Pilot Law

Can I Get a FAA Medical Certificate with a  TBI? This is a question that we are asked frequently by airmen who have had a head injury. This firm most frequently sees airmen attempting to achieve FAA medical certification despite a history of traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) resulting from an automobile or aircraft accident, a fall, injuries incurred in the military, or as the result of another traumatic injury.  Of course, every case is different; however, it may be possible to achieve FAA medical certification following a TBI. There are very specific items that the FAA will evaluate in order to establish whether your history of TBI puts you at risk for developing aeromedically significant, side-effects, subsequent to the injury.

In practice, the FAA stresses a concern for posttraumatic epilepsy or seizures, following a TBI. Specifically, the FAA has identified that excess risk of seizures remains elevated for 10 years after mild brain injury. For the most part, we commonly work with airmen who are several months, post-injury and experiencing no symptoms. In most cases, the airman’s treating neurologist has even cleared the airman back to work and has expressed no concern for the development of seizures. The FAA, however, in an abundance of caution, will typically be very cautious with how long the agency will require an airman to wait, prior to considering the airman for medical certification.

If you’ve had a TBI, you can expect the FAA to want to review a number of items, to assess your neurological and neuropsychological status, as well as your risk for developing seizures. This may include review of all medical records, including pre-hospital, emergency department, specialty consultation, and operative reports. Typically, the FAA will also request a neuropsychological evaluation (to FAA standards), as well as a MRI with specific hemosiderin protocol.

If the FAA is asking you for medical records and evaluation following a TBI, be careful how you respond and what information you provide. Keep in mind that you may be able to argue to the FAA that previously completed, diagnostic workup supports your eligibility for medical certification and that additional evaluation may be unnecessary. If there is an opportunity to avoid unnecessary, expensive, and potentially problematic evaluation and imaging, that opportunity should be considered with a FAA medical attorney who is familiar with the FAA’s TBI protocol.

If you are asking “can I Get a FAA Medical Certificate with a History of TBI,” call to have a consultation with a FAA defense attorney at The Ison Law Firm. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and provide important counsel, as you develop an appropriate response to the FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine.

FAA Medical and VA Benefits for PTSD

  • ON Mar 02, 2021
  • /
  • BY Anthony Ison
  • /
  • IN Pilot Law

Is it possible to obtain a FAA medical certificate and VA benefits for PTSD? There are many veterans who hold medical certificates with the FAA, despite actively receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). While every case is different, the FAA typically considers an airman’s current mental health status, whether the airman requires on-going treatment for symptoms, and the airman’s level of risk for recurrence of PTSD symptoms, to consider whether an airman is eligible for airman medical certification. The airman’s history will also be considered. Specifically, the FAA evaluates an airman’s history for the purposes of confirming whether symptoms have resolved, that the airman is not taking medication for PTSD, and that there is no history of other mental illness.

While your PTSD may be in remission, the FAA can still consider you for certification even if you are receiving counseling for PTSD. Specifically, the FAA will frequently issue a special issuance authorization to airmen who require ongoing counseling for PTSD. Typically, in order to maintain medical certification and special issuance for PTSD, the FAA will require that an airman provide frequent updates from a healthcare professional regarding treatment, status, and prognosis. The FAA doesn’t always require these updates be from a psychiatrist, but rather from either your primary care physician or counselor.

At the end of the day, it is possible to obtain a FAA medical certificate and VA benefits for PTSD at the same time. There are some tactics and strategy that may very well help you more easily demonstrate eligibility for certification with the FAA and move through the process faster. If you’d like to discuss how you can present your VA benefits for PTSD to the FAA, call the FAA medical attorneys at The Ison Law Firm.

FAA Civil Penalties for Drug Abatement Violations

  • ON Feb 26, 2021
  • /
  • BY Anthony Ison
  • /
  • IN Pilot Law

FAA civil penalties for drug abatement violations can put a big dent in a small company’s pocketbook. If you are an air carrier or other certificate holder which is required to conduct DOT drug and alcohol testing for “safety sensitive” employees, the FAA can levy civil penalties for violations of regulatory, testing requirements. Specifically, companies that conduct DOT drug and alcohol testing are required to comply with the requirements of 14 C.F.R. Part 120 and 49 C.F.R. Part 40 for their drug and alcohol testing programs.

As most employers probably know, the requirements of 14 C.F.R. Part 120 and 49 C.F.R. Part 40 are extensive and voluminous. Understandably, employers find it easier to engage the services of a third-party agent to manage the drug and alcohol testing needs of its employees, rather than manage the required testing themselves. Of critical importance, however, is that even if your company employs a third-party service agent, your company is still responsible for compliance with relevant testing regulations. Specifically, 49 C.F.R. §40.15(c) states that:

“You remain responsible for compliance with all applicable requirements of this part and other DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations, even when you use a service agent. If you violate this part or other DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations because a service agent has not provided services as our rules require, a DOT agency can subject you to sanctions. Your good faith use of a service agent is not a defense in an enforcement action initiated by a DOT agency in which your alleged noncompliance with this part or a DOT agency drug and alcohol regulation may have resulted from the service agent’s conduct.”

Therefore, if your service agent drops the ball and fails to properly subject an employee to proper DOT testing, the FAA can subject your company to a hefty civil penalty. 49 U.S.C. § 46301(a)(5) specifically identifies that a company can face a civil penalty not to exceed $13,066 for each violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The FAA has a history of pursuing such claims.

If you are facing FAA civil penalties for drug abatement violations, you have options for reconsideration and appeal. The FAA defense attorneys at The Ison Law Firm have experience defending FAA drug abatement violations and are standing by to assist with your case.

Drone Operations Near Super Bowl LV

  • ON Feb 09, 2021
  • /
  • BY Anthony Ison
  • /
  • IN Drone Law

Drone Operations near the Super Bowl LV could lead to substantial fines from the FAA. Many novice and hobbyist Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or “drone” operators may be in for a big shock if caught operating a drone in defiance of the FAA’s Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) during the Super Bowl LV. On February 7, 2021, from 5:30 p.m. to 11:59 EST, the FAA will prohibit the use of drones within a 30-nautical-mile radius of the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The restriction will extend from surface level up to 18,000 feet. Additionally, drones are prohibited for a one (1) nautical mile radius around Raymond James Stadium on February 7 from 10:00 a.m. until the TFR for the game takes effect. Should an unlucky drone operator get caught operating a UAS in violation of the FAA’s TFR without permission, the FAA may seek civil penalties in excess of $30,000 and potential criminal prosecution. https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=96540

Some basic math will help illustrate the breadth of the FAA’s TFR regarding the nautical mile restriction. For every 1 nautical mile there is 1.151 statute miles (what we commonly refer to while driving our cars). Thus, 30-nautical-miles equates to approximately 34.5234-statute-miles. So, drone operators in Clearwater, Brandon, Sarasota, Plant City, Tarpon Springs, Ruskin, New Port Richey, Zephyrhills, and parts of both Lakeland and Brooksville (to name just a few cities in the TFR zone), will certainly be impacted by the Super Bowl TFR, despite the fact that 30-nautical-miles will probably be far beyond the distance capabilities of most consumer drones.

As if the TFR for the February 7, 2021, Super Bowl was not restrictive enough, the FAA also established a TFR around the Raymond James vicinity leading up to the Super Bowl. Beginning January 29 to February 6, the FAA will restrict drone flights for roughly two (2) nautical miles around Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park up to an altitude of 2,000 feet.

Just imagine, living on the outer edge of the 30-nautical-mile radius from the Raymond James Stadium and flying your DJI Mavic, EXO Zino, or Aee AP9 during the Super Bowl, only to see the FBI and police approach you about, what would otherwise be, a harmless drone flight. As of February 6, 2021, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has responded nearly 70 drone intrusions into the No Fly Zones around Super Bowl Events. Law enforcement and the FAA claim that drones can be used as weapons or, when operated by pilots not certificated under Part 107 or exempted by 49 CFR 44809, cause injury to individuals on the ground. https://www.abcactionnews.com/sports/super-bowl/hcso-deputies-respond-to-nearly-70-drone-violations-around-super-bowl-events?_amp=true

Drone operations near Super Bowl LV may cost you more than the innocent fun you were expecting to have. If you received a Letter of Investigation or Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty due to an alleged violation of the FAA’s TFR regarding drone activity around Super Bowl LV, call the Pilot Lawyers at The Ison Law Firm to discuss your rights and legal options at 855-FAA-1215.

 

FAA HIMS Step Down Protocol

  • ON Feb 04, 2021
  • /
  • BY Anthony Ison
  • /
  • IN Pilot Law

In August of 2020, the FAA introduced the HIMS step down protocol for airman who hold a medical certificate pursuant to a special issuance authorization for “substance dependence.” In theory, the step down protocol works two ways for airmen on a “substance dependence” special issuance. In some regards, the new protocol works to eliminate the frequency of a costly, HIMS psychiatric evaluation, time-consuming aftercare requirements, and other monitoring requirements, faster than would otherwise be required. However, on the other hand, the step down protocol extends the duration of a special issuance for the airman’s entire life as a medical certificate holder. While the monitoring that is required may not be too extensive following year 7 of the airman life, the step down protocol does, at least, still provide some level of FAA oversight.

What airmen should be aware of is that the time course of the HIMS step down protocol may be modified on a case-by-case basis. To that end, the specified reduction of requirements is discretionary by the HIMS AME. In essence, if an airman is not providing the HIMS AME with sufficient evidence of recovery within any given phase of the protocol, the HIMS AME may represent insufficient compliance to the Federal Air Surgeon’s office. So, while it may seem like the reduction of requirements throughout the protocol are hard-and-fast, they are not.

If you are an airman on a “substance dependence” special issuance, the HIMS step down protocol may be to your benefit. Be careful, however, because providing evidence of satisfactory recovery to your HIMS AME is paramount to avoiding going back to the beginning of the protocol or worse, having your special issuance withdrawn. If you have questions regarding the HIMS step down protocol, call your FAA medical attorney at The Ison Law Firm.