Although this topic has been discussed in the past, usually in the context of medical certificate revocation proceedings or regarding the Operation Safe Pilot investigation, every so often another airman is criminally prosecuted for omitting disqualifying information from his or her FAA Application for Medical Certificate. In a Post on the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General site the OIG provides a summary of a recent investigation that resulted in the conviction and sentencing of a helicopter pilot for falsification of FAA Airman Medical Applications. According to the summary, the airman was sentenced to 36 months probation, fined $5,000, ordered to pay a special assessment of $100 and ordered not to pilot an aircraft of any type.
Apparently during the investigation the FAA and/or OIG discovered that the airman submitted two applications while he was also receiving 100% disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a medical disorder he failed to disclose on his medical applications. He also failed to report that he had been convicted of two non-traffic offenses. Although this appears to be similar to the circumstances involved in the Operation Safe Pilot investigation, the summary doesn’t indicate whether the falsification was discovered during a similar type of investigation.
Although the discovery of the omissions guaranteed that the FAA would seek to revoke the airman’s medical certificate, and likely his other airman certificates, this doesn’t automatically result in criminal prosecution. However, in this case the airman voluntarily surrendered his medical and airman certificates and then operated an aircraft on two separate occasions when he either did not have a medical certificate, did not have an airman certificate or did not have both. Shortly after discovering the flights, an indictment was issued and the airman was arrested. In addition to the criminal proceeding, the FAA also assessed a $4,000 civil penalty against the airman for the two flights.
Making the proper/required disclosures on applications for medical certificates continues to be a thorny issue for some airman. However, both FAA enforcement and criminal prosecution for falsification violations remain significant consequences for omissions. To avoid ending up in this situation, prepare for your medical examination well in advance. If you are unsure about whether something needs to be disclosed, consult with your AME or an aviation attorney before you go in for your exam. Better to know all of your options before you are sitting in your AME’s office with pen and application in hand.