Pilot Health & Medical Certification—Aviation Safety Starts Here

Today, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) brought together aeromedical leadership from the United States and Canada to discuss the current state of pilot health and medical certification issues that have critical implications for commercial aviation. Supporting the conference was the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA).

The symposium, “Pilot Health and Medical Certification—Aviation Safety Starts Here,” was the first ever ALPA-sponsored aviation medical symposium that specifically discussed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada policy issues and potential changes to aeromedical guidelines and criteria used to medically certify pilots. It featured a direct dialog and debate with the new FAA federal air surgeon and Transport Canada’s chief medical officer.

In addition to representatives from ALPA and FAA and Transport Canada aeromedical leadership, other participants included aviation medical examiners and representatives from airlines, other pilot unions, and colleges and universities.

Physicians specializing in aviation medicine discussed the current trends and issues related to proactive fitness for duty, focusing on the actions pilots can take to stay healthy and ways to access the best medical assistance when they are ill or injured.

Another topic was the special issuance process that thousands of pilots benefit from every year and how this process, which allows pilots with certain medical conditions to be more effectively monitored as they continue their careers, could be improved.

“Aviation safety starts with a healthy and well rested pilot,” said Capt. Sean Cassidy, ALPA first vice president. “It was very encouraging to see how focused the aviation medical leaders in the United States and Canada were in addressing pilot health issues and that they showed a keen interest in ensuring their expeditious return to the flight deck.”