The Transportation Department’s inspector general told the House aviation subcommittee in July that possible extensions to the durations of medical certificates and the planned raising of the airline pilot retirement age underscore the importance of the medical certification process.
A group of current and former airline pilots rallied on Capitol Hill yesterday afternoon to protest the 45-year-old FAA regulation that forces pilots to leave the cockpit once they reach age 60. The group, flanked by Southwest Airlines chairman Herb Kelleher, Jet Blue vice president Robert Land, Sen. James Inhofe (D-Okla.) and Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.), said that momentum is building in Congress to change the rule.
A hearing held today by the House transportation and infrastructure subcommittee on aviation sought to examine ways to reduce the level of falsifications and omissions on FAA medical applications.
Where is the House’s version of the FAA funding bill? That is the question industry is asking as time draws short to get it through committee and passed on the full floor. A spokesman for the Republican minority confirmed to AIN that the current delay stems from the issue of controller staffing. “Committee leaders urged the FAA and NATCA [the controllers’ union] to resolve their differences,” he said.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is partnering with the FAA to provide veterans with disabilities on-the-job training as air traffic controllers or technicians installing and repairing ATC equipment.
The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has called for a hearing later this spring on falsified medical certificates after the Transportation Department’s Inspector General found “egregious” cases of airmen lying to the FAA about medical conditions to pass their medical exams.
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 medicals who were receiving disability benefit payments.
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.
Jean Ross Howard Phelan, a pioneering airplane and helicopter pilot, died early last month at the age of 87. During World War II she helped aviation legend Jackie Cochran run a base for the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She learned to fly under the Civilian Pilot Training program (which later banned women from its ranks) and, in 1954, became only the eighth woman in the U.S. to get her helicopter rating.