It should be assumed that if you’re qualified to operate massive and potentially dangerous equipment such as airplanes, you are healthy enough or fit to do so. However, as the Federal Aviation Administration has just reported, thousands of pilots may not be as fit as they should be.
The report comes from The Washington Post, who recently spoke with the agency. According to The Post, an investigation began more than two years ago when the Office of Veterans Affairs realized that some of the pilots in their system were reporting disabilities or medical conditions to them but not to the FAA.
The Post said that about 600 of the pilots fly for passenger airlines, potentially putting thousands at risk each day. Others work on private planes, cargo flights, or tour companies. So far, the investigation has grounded 60 pilots.
“Experts said that the inquiry has exposed long-standing vulnerabilities in the FAA’s medical system for screening pilots and that the sheer number of unreported health problems presents a risk to aviation safety.”
It is noted that, for the most part, the FAA has heavily relied on pilots to self-report any such health issues.
Now, FAA spokesman Matthew Lehner says about 4,800 pilots are being looked into “who might have submitted incorrect or false information as part of their medical records.
It’s a frightening thought, to be sure.
Then again, the FAA also admits that those medical conditions, whether reported or not, for the vast majority, don’t pose much, if any, threat.
It’s also being said that the investigation unfairly targets veterans, as they aren’t the only pilots who don’t always self-report as they should. Grounded pilot Rick Mangini says he knows many “pilots who have told me about (medical conditions) they aren’t telling the FAA about.”
And so, the fact that the FAA is only going after veterans seems more like “harassment.”
Other pilots say the disability claims are being inflated.
In any case, the FAA has quite a problem on their hands…