In a Congressional Report prepared on behalf of MN Representative Oberstar, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Oversight and Investigations Majority Staff recommends that the FAA exercise more oversight of the medical certification process to uncover more of the falsifications that were discovered during Operation Safe Pilot. The report summarizes Operation Safe Pilot’s cross-check of Social Security disability recipients against the airmen medical database and the discovery of airmen with medical certificates who were also receiving disability benefits for conditions that would otherwise be disqualifying.
In response to criticism from the DOT Inspector General, the FAA argued that pilot falsification on medical applications is not widespread and not worth the resources that would be required to expand the investigation beyond California. However, the report then observes that the FAA doesn’t even “spot-check” medical applications and, in fact, penalizes airmen who do answer the application questions honestly (disclosure of a disqualifying condition could result in the FAA denying the airman a medical certificate).
The report concludes that the FAA should establish “a strategy to coordinate with providers of disability benefits to periodically sample and verify medical information provided on Airman Medical Certificate applications” and “[i]f nothing else, the knowledge that FAA is spot-checking disclosures—and that swift and meaningful consequences will follow if falsifications are found—should provide a powerful incentive for applicants to be more forthcoming on their applications for Airman Medical Certificates.”
The report doesn’t really reveal anything new or surprising. However, coming from Rep. Oberstar this report will likely get some attention and/or response. Don’t be surprised if Operation Safe Pilot is expanded or some other mechanism is implemented to review/confirm airmen’s responses on medical applications.