Forty Pilots Indicted in Fraud Sting

 - October 4, 2006, 4:54 AM

Operation Safe Pilot, an 18-month federal probe into “the misuse of Social Security numbers by pilots,” ended last month with the indictment of 40 pilots–some with commercial or ATP certificates–on fraud charges. During the investigation of 40,000 FAA-licensed pilots in northern California, federal agents identified numerous pilots with current medical certificates who were receiving disability benefit payments. Officials focused on the “most egregious claims of disabilities” ranging from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, drug or alcohol addiction, disabling back conditions or severe heart conditions–all of which would prevent issuance of an FAA medical certificate. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the 40 indicted pilots “committed fraud when they failed to report on their FAA medical airman’s certificates that they suffered from a disabling condition.” Further, the FAA has revoked 14 of the pilots’ certificates and has put the other 26 on notice that their pilot and medical certificates could also be suspended.