While there are a handful of pilots that do not give going to the aviation medical examiner a second thought, for many of us, there is a nagging feeling of “what if” following us the whole way into the office. For pilots whose livelihood relies on that renewal of their medical, the visit can be even more stressful.
When the Worst Case Scenario Becomes Reality
Let’s say that you have recently been to your aviation medical examiner’s office to renew your first class medical. While you have not had any major health problems in the recent past, the AME notices a few things that concern him and could point to a potentially disqualifying medical condition.
From here, your fate lies in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aeromedical Certification Division. Many times, the FAA will err towards the conservative side, and either offer you a special issuance—of which it will be your duty to prove you can safely operate under—or outright deny your certificate.
After you receive the official FAA letter denying your application for a medical certificate, you will have 30 days to respond with a request for the FAA to reconsider the denial. This reconsideration process can take a considerable amount of time, and if they uphold their denial, you will have to move forward with an appeal to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Fighting the Feds: Appealing Your Medical Certificate Denial to the NTSB
To appeal, you will need to request a hearing with an administrative law judge by filing a petition with the NTSB. At this hearing, both you and the FAA will be tasked with presenting evidence for or against your case. While you can present evidence from a slew of medical professionals who are familiar with your medical history, beware: the FAA will typically hold evidence from aviation medical professionals like your AME in higher regard than evidence brought by other physicians and doctors.
Fighting the Good Fight
It is important to everyone that our pilots—especially those who fly for a living—are healthy and safe in the skies. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to get a complete picture of a person’s health in a quick ten minute visit, resulting in a denial of a medical certificate. Appealing to the NTSB can be a very costly process, but protecting your livelihood is priceless.
If you feel as though your medical certificate has been denied in error, contact the experienced Arizona aviation attorneys at Curry, Pearson & Wooten today at 602-258-1000. We can help you fight to defend your certificate and your career.