Confidential Consultations Available To Members
by ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas
Aviation has its own Dr.
Phil, Dr. Phillip E. Parker. There's also Dr. Quay (Snyder) and Dr.
Keith (Martin). The three physicians work for Virtual Flight
Surgeons, Inc. (VFS) in Aurora, CO.
Though Dr. Phil has been penning a column in the Women in
Aviation International (WAI) magazine for about a year and a half,
a recent partnership announced at the WAI Membership Meeting takes
the relationship to another level. The announcement will mean a new
benefit for WAI members.
Confidential consultations are offered at meetings such as the
WAI conference, or at Oshkosh. In addition, a discounted rate will
be available for consultations outside the conference venues.
VFS also represents over 90,000 professional pilots and air
traffic controllers. The VFS doctors have turned in their Aviation
Medical Examiner status to avoid any formal link to the FAA.
"We work hand in hand with the FAA," says Dr. Phil "We're
basically the pilot's liaison in dealing with the FAA."
Dr. Phil notes the AME's are sometimes a bit behind in
regulation changes. "For instance a relatively new policy is that
multi focal contacts are allowed. Most AME's don't know that."
Some of the repeat topics that come up in the 250–300
daily phone calls the office receives are about sleep apnea and
kidney stones. What to report, and how to report it, are the
questions. Another big question is whether a condition is
Sport pilot is another topic taking center stage these days. "If
I report this to the FAA what's going to happen" is often the
question of the day. According to Dr. Phil "in most cases if you're
safe to fly, as long as you document it, the FAA is going to be
willing to let you fly, with some notable exceptions."
VFS submit the bulk of waivers that the FAA receives. The
turnaround, with proper paperwork, is about three to five weeks.
The problems happen when the proper paperwork is not submitted.
"What's actually written on the piece of paper is much more
important than did you just get the piece of paper in your
package." In other words, dot your I's and cross those T's.
A major project right now is getting the HIMS (Human
Intervention Motivational Study) Program started for the corporate
arena. A grant from the FAA, VFS and ALPA (Airline Pilots
Association) years ago started the program. Treatment, recovery and
intensive monitoring by the company and peers allow the individual
to return to service much sooner. "The success rate is the highest
of recovery programs," boasts Dr. Phil. The intensive monitoring is
part of the key. With the program, an individual's job is preserved
as long as the person goes through the program and continues. When
the program is then in place you may get a rise in cases since the
fear of unemployment is virtually eliminated.
"What you've really done is averted tragedy by having these
people that were already alcoholics come forward," says Dr.
VFS and Dr. Phil will be answering questions during the
conference. The booth is located by the front of the exhibit hall
at the WAI membership booth. Come talk to them... confidentially,