While the U.S. government is on a Congress-created enforced shutdown, the aviation industry might be tempted to wonder what the FAA actually accomplishes. What we are learning is that a lot of what the FAA does is process paperwork. And when the paperwork stops flowing, we can be forced to stop flying.
Student pilot Michael Graham pleaded guilty in a North Carolina U.S. District Court on May 6 to falsifying statements in connection with his submission of an FAA medical form to obtain his student pilot certificate. According to an FAA statement, Graham did not disclose his criminal or medical history or current medications on his application for an airman medical certificate, which an aviation medical examiner subsequently approved. The FAA was notified after his flight instructor became concerned about Graham’s behavior.
LouElla Hollingsworth, a veteran air traffic controller with 29 years’ experience, saved the pilot of a Piaggio Avanti when she recognized signs of hypoxia in his radio transmissions on November 16 last year. Thanks to Hollingsworth’s quick thinking as a Fort Worth Center controller in Texas, she convinced the pilot to descend to a lower altitude where the oxygen level was suitable for breathing.
There is only a little time left to comment on a petition for exemption from the third-class medical requirement for pilots flying recreationally. The exemption petition was submitted to the FAA by the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and the comment period closes on July 2. As of June 25, there were more than 3,300 comments, but the more comments received, the more the FAA might pay attention.
The U.S. Air Force approved a resumption of flight operations by the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, ending a four-month standdown ordered after pilots experienced symptoms of hypoxia. The suspected source of the problem, the aircraft’s onboard oxygen generation system (Obogs), remains under study.
The U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor fleet remains grounded into a fourth month as the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board conducts a study of the F-22 and other aircraft using onboard oxygen generation systems (Obogs).
Comlux plans to offer access to remote medical care for passengers on all its charter and managed aircraft. The Swiss aviation services provider recently signed an agreement with MedAire to offer a standard, fleet-wide medical package, including 24/7 access to emergency care doctors, equiping aircraft with on-board medical kits, and aviation medical training for 125 pilots and flight attendants.
In recent months FAA Administrator Babbitt has promoted specific tailored hypoxia training, along with high-altitude handling, for commercial and private pilots who want to fly at high altitude. Indeed, FAA Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14CFR) establishes mandatory requirements for high-altitude training using military altitude chambers at 15 U.S.
The requirement for pilots to be certified fit to fly by a medical doctor is a universal feature of aviation regulatory bodies. The International Civil Aviation Organization sets the standard, which individual states can modify. According to ICAO, “To become a professional pilot or an air traffic controller, an applicant must be in normal good health (including normal hearing, normal vision and normal color perception).”
More than 60 percent of business jet pilots do not use oxygen masks when required to by FAA regulations, according to a survey conducted by corporate pilot Chris Shaver for his master’s thesis at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.