A recent case has affirmed the NTSB’s longstanding position that an airman’s intentional falsification of an application for a medical certificate justifies revocation of all of an airman’s certificates. In Administrator v. Croston, the airman completed a application for a first class medical certificate and, in response to Question 18(v)(whether the airman “ever in [his] life [he] had any … history of any conviction(s) or administrative action(s) involving an offense(s) which resulted in the denial, suspension, cancellation or revocation of driving privileges[.]”) the airman answered no. The airman was subsequently issued a medical certificate.
However, when the FAA obtained the airman’s driving record from the National Driver Registry (“NDR”), the FAA learned that the airman had, in fact, had his driver’s license suspended on five separate occasions for alcohol related driving offenses. As you might imagine, the FAA was not pleased. The FAA issued an emergency revocation order revoking both the airman’s first class medical certificate, as well as his private pilot glider certificate, based upon its allegation that the airman had violated FAR 67.403(a)1(making a fraudulent or intentionally false statement).
The airman then appealed the emergency revocation. At the hearing, the airman argued that he answered the question as he did because he misunderstood the question. He also argued that he didn’t intend to deceive the FAA because he knew the FAA would obtain the NDR record. Judge Pope rejected the airman’s arguments. He found that the airman’s explanation was not credible because the question was “clear and ambiguous”. He then affirmed the emergency revocation of the airman’s certificates.
On appeal to the NTSB, the airman argued that Judge Pope had misunderstood his explanation for his incorrect answer. However, the Board rejected the airman’s argument and deferred to Judge Pope’s credibility and factual determinations. It then affirmed its longstanding precedent that “revocation of airman and medical certificates is the appropriate sanction for intentional falsification of a medical certificate application because such falsification demonstrates that an airman lacks the necessary qualifications to properly exercise the privileges of these FAA certificates”.
This case demonstrates the danger of answering a question on an application for medical certificate incorrectly, whether due to a misunderstanding or intentionally. An airman with possible disqualifying conditions would do well to review, and understand, the application well before he or she arrives at the aviation medical examiner’s office. That way, the airman can obtain appropriate counsel from an aviation attorney to make sure he or she does not end up in the position of the airman in this case.