Investigation Uncovers Pilot Medical Frauds

 - March 29, 2007, 11:58 AM

Some 43 pilots in Northern California charged with making false statements on their applications for medical certifications entered plea agreements. But one went to trial and lost. Michael Pennington, a former chief pilot and maintenance director for Mountain Life Flight, an air ambulance service, was found guilty. Testimony during the trial disclosed that Pennington falsified his application for his annual medical certificate between 2001 and 2004 by failing to indicate that he was receiving disability benefits for debilitating medical conditions. He also allowed the Social Security Administration to send him $36,000 in excess disability payments between 2003 and 2005. Pennington will be the last pilot in the group to be sentenced. No sentencing date had been set at press time. The falsifications were uncovered during “Operation Safe Pilot,” a joint review of airman medical certifications in Northern California conducted by the office of Social Security and the DOT. Similar investigations are expected in other geographical areas.