The NTSB recently affirmed the FAA’s denial of an airman’s application for thirdclass medical certificate based upon the airman’s suffering from Dysthemia (a low grade depressive disorder). In Petition of Scott J. Pias, the airman was diagnosed with Dysthemia and treated with a number of medications over a period of time. During this time period, the airman and his psychiatrist determined, largely based upon the airman’s representations, that Celexa best controlled the airman’s symptoms. The airman applied for an unrestricted third-class medical certificate and was denied.
On appeal, the Board noted that the airman had a mental disorder and that certain of the symptoms of that disorder could easily adversely affect aviation safety (“poor concentration, questionable decision-making ability in complex tasks, nervousness anxiousness, irritability, sadness, depression, and feelings of worthlessness clearly would adversely affect a pilot’s attention and capability to fly and to prepare for flight in even the most routine circumstances.”).
The airman argued, among other things, that he was qualified to hold a medical because his mental disorder was controlled by Celexa. However, the Board responded that “the FARs do not provide an exception to the rule for cases where medication is controlling an individual’s symptoms. The FAA cannot monitor and cannot be expected to monitor individuals to ensure that they stay on their medication, that they are having no adverse side effects from it, and/or that the medication is continuing to be effective.”
Based upon the facts and precedent, the Board concluded that “the expert testimony clearly shows that petitioner’s underlying diagnosis and case history make him unfit to hold a medical certificate now and in the future 2 years. Petitioner’s evidence is not sufficient to demonstrate that the FAS was wrong in declining to issue the certificatethe airman.” (It is important to note that the airman has the burden of proof on appeal of a denial of a medical application).