Expect Delays in Special Issuance Medicals
with pending special issuance medical certificates will likely have
a longer wait because Operation Iraqi Freedom has cut into FAA
Aeromedical headquarters' staff in Oklahoma City. The military has
called to active duty two of the five physicians who handle special
issuances and other duties for FAA Aerospace Medical
One physician is serving with the Army National Guard in Bosnia
and the other is on duty with the Air Guard in the Middle East. The
FAA staff didn't have a lot of time to deal with the call-ups, said
Dr. Warren Silberman, head of FAA Aerospace Medical Certification,
adding that one doctor was called to active duty on short
the situation is the continuing funding resolution Congress passed
in February. It includes a hiring freeze, so the unit is unable to
fill the open permanent and contract aeromedical positions. But
when the FAA doctors were called to active duty, Silberman received
immediate authority to hire a new doctor, who should be onboard by
the end of April.
The bottom line: Delays for initial special issuances will be up
to three months, Silberman said. For recertifications and regular
reviews, expect up to a two-month delay.
What Pilots Can Do
Pilots awaiting special issuance decisions are assured that the
FAA's "skeleton crew" is doing the best they can, Silberman said.
He offers the following suggestions to allow them to work as
efficiently as possible.
The EAA recommends pilots learn exactly what information,
records, and/or tests the FAA requires for a particular medical
condition. When pilots don't submit all information the FAA needs
to evaluate a special issuance medical certificate, it creates a
back-and-forth situation that adds more time to the process.
"That is the crux of one of the biggest problems
we have," Silberman said. "To give us a head start and avoid
back-and-forth delays, pilots and their local aviation medical
examiners need to get their materials together in one package and
get it off to us, so that when we get the materials, everything is
there and we can make a decision."
Silberman strongly advises pilots to provide exactly what the
instructions call for. "We ask for certain things for a reason, so
when you go to your AME, don't let your physician talk you into
anything less than we require, unless they speak with someone here
and get the go-ahead."
In short, pilots can play a proactive role in reducing the delay
in special issuance medical certification by providing all the
information the FAA requires for the condition in question. "We do
not like to make airmen wait," Silberman said, but the FAA cannot
act until the pilot submits what the FAA needs to make the