Understanding The FAA Special Issuance Medical Certificate

Understanding The FAA Special Issuance Medical Certificate

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Jackson Barnett

Principal Attorney

You have recently been denied a medical certificate by the FAA AMCD or your medical application has been deferred, due to a potentially disqualifying condition.

Suddenly, your career or hobby as a pilot now has far more additional questions along with an overall sense of great confusion over your next steps.

While there are a few instances in which the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) is permitted to issue a medical certificate to an airman with a disqualifying medical condition during an exam, in most cases, the AME must defer the application to the FAA’s Aviation Medical Certificate Division (AMCD) and the Federal Air Surgeon.

Fortunately, there may be hope for a positive outcome through one critical legal avenue: Authorization for an FAA Special Issuance Medical Certificate issued by the Federal Air Surgeon.

Let’s examine what this certificate is and how Barnett Law Offices can navigate the sophisticated process of obtaining it.


The Root Of The FAA Special Issuance Challenge

There are a number of medical conditions that are considered disqualifying under 14 CFR part 67. If you currently have or prior diagnosis with any of the below, the AME is required to defer your application and the FAA will request additional information. Disqualifying conditions include:

  • Angina pectoris
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cardiac valve replacement
  • Coronary heart disease that has required treatment or, if untreated, that has been symptomatic or clinically significant
  • Diabetes mellitus requiring insulin or other hypoglycemic medication
  • Disturbance of consciousness without satisfactory medical explanation of the cause
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart replacement
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Permanent cardiac pacemaker
  • Personality disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts
  • Psychosis
  • Substance abuse and dependence
  • Transient loss of control of nervous system function(s) without satisfactory medical explanation of cause

Based on the above list, the FAA has one key question:

Whether current or previously treated, is it a medical or mental health condition that can be adequately controlled in this particular case?

If it appears that the condition is adequately controllable, the case for a medical certification for an airman can be made, contingent on the Federal Air Surgeon’s requirements.

FAA statutes specifically state: “At his discretion, the Federal Air Surgeon may grant an Authorization for Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate (Authorization), with a specified validity period, to an applicant who does not meet the established medical standards.”


How Might The Airman Obtain An FAA Special Issuance Medical Certificate?

The process of obtaining an Authorization for Special Issuance Medical Certificate can be very complicated and should never be navigated by an airman alone. This is where the resources and connections of our aviation attorneys at Barnett Law Offices can help. How so? It starts by knowing the right AME for the right case at the right time.


Not All AMEs Are Equal

One of the most vital yet severely underestimated factors for obtaining a Special Issuance Medical Certificate is the AME selected for your case. Selecting the right AME with specific experience in your particular medical condition is critical to the outcome.

Barnett’s Law Offices’ contact references from many medical certificate cases can likely connect you with an AME who has the experience necessary to put you in the best position for certification, while working with the Federal Air Surgeon’s requirements for your condition. Working with the right AME can often make the overall situation far more manageable, ultimately helping to reduce the amount of time spent obtaining a Special Issuance medical certificate.


The Medical Certificate Process Itself

The Federal Air Surgeon (FAS) may authorize the steps you need to take to become eligible for a Special Issuance certificate. These steps may include:

  • A special medical flight test
  • Practical test
  • Series of medical evaluations and testing

If the FAS is satisfied with the airman’s ability to perform, a Special Issuance Authorization can be granted.

A Special Issuance Authorization is subject to:

  • Specific class of certificate and date of authorization
  • Conditions granting the authorization
  • Compliance with conditions

How Long Does FAA Special Issuance Take?

The timing for a Special Issuance Authorization depends on the medical condition itself and the requirements of the FAS for the pilot to demonstrate the ability to perform.
Keep in mind: The Authorization for Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate is at the discretion of the Federal Air Surgeon.


When Does The FAA Medical Certificate Expire?

When an airman is issued an Authorization for Special Issuance Medical Certificate, the airman will receive a letter stating all the conditions and timing for that authorization.

Failure of the airman to comply with all Authorization requirements will result in a withdraw of the Authorization.  The airman will likely face legal action from the FAA if there is a failure to comply with the terms of the Authorization.


How Is Your Aviation Attorney’s Track Record On Special Issuance Cases?

Having embedded relationships with AME contacts can be beneficial in many cases. Knowing the right doctor to be in front of based on your situation is crucial. So is having a deep level of knowledge with the FAA medical certificate process by your aviation attorney and evidence of consistent success that can give you great peace of mind on what to expect.

Our aviation attorneys at Barnett Law Offices will represent you and provide legal services, consultation, negotiation, research and appropriate reporting, all in the pursuit of obtaining and preserving your FAA medical certificate.

Additionally, in the event further evaluations are required, we can assist in preparing each pilot to increase the likelihood of a good result.

If you are facing what feels like a daunting challenge to obtain your special issuance medical certificate, call Barnett Law Offices today at 1.800.578.5512 for a consultation with one of our aviation attorneys.