March 21, 2023

The job of an airline pilot is, by its nature, worrying. Airline pilots should deal with a multi-million greenback piece of equipment and all of the people aboard, no matter inclement climate or passenger misbehavior. Thyme should additionally adjust to many rules, and talk very properly with others. It’s quite a lot of accountability to hold which, coupled with private obligations like household and such, can take its toll.

What can and can’t get a pilot’s medical suspended

It’s price contemplating that many pilots concern dropping their medical over even an alleged psychological well being subject. The case of Delta Air Traces pilot & revealed creator Karlene Pettit, as reported within the December 28, 2020, Related Press, reveals that if the airline’s most well-liked psychiatrist – wrongfully – finds you mentally unfit to fly commercially, you might be grounded indefinitely. Fortunately the courts have been capable of restore Pettit to flying standing because the judicial course of wore on. Nonetheless, pilots are legitimately involved about reporting psychological well being points.


Karlene Pettit was finally cleared to proceed flying. Photograph: Karlene Pettit

A overview of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) web site and 14 CFR 67.107 reveals {that a} extreme psychological well being subject is a menace to sustaining a first-class airman medical certificates, which US airline pilots must fly. Relatively extra critical points akin to substance abuse, psychosis, bipolar dysfunction, character dysfunction, coronary heart ailment, or sight impairment are good causes to droop or revoke the medical certification. Moreover, some medicines might require a pilot to not fly for a selected interval.

The FAA additionally requires an Aviation Medical Examiner do a verify on airline pilots regularly. Amongst different issues checked alongside coronary heart and imaginative and prescient are well being skilled visits, medicines taken and related. If the Aviation Medical Examiner has considerations, the FAA Workplace of Aerospace Medication might be simply consulted. FAA additionally stresses that,

“The FAA encourages pilots to hunt assist if they’ve a psychological well being situation since most, if handled, don’t disqualify a pilot from flying.”

It’s additionally a good suggestion for airline pilots to hunt out their union for assets as described beneath.

Assets are most undoubtedly out there

A very good instance of current assets for pilots is the Delta Pilots MEC association for a Pilot Help Community or PAN to assist pilots battle psychological well being challenges. As “Interact: The Podcast for Delta Pilots” podcast host Ryan Argenta and Grant Olbrich, the Chair of the PAN Committee, clarify, seeing counseling to avoid wasting a wedding just isn’t reportable. However when it will get to in search of assist for a psychological well being subject, confidential choices can be found. One possibility is PAN.

In Olbrich’s phrases, PAN is meant to offer a confidential pilot-to-pilot dialog about something that’s a problem to a pilot that’s taking her or him off of heart, mentally or in any other case. Most PAN members have had well being challenges and needed to work to return to being airworthy.

For Argenta, the episode was private as,

“I at all times say that, ‘In the event you’re a Delta pilot, I’ll take a swift kick for you. As a result of we’re on the identical workforce.’ And to listen to about someone who took their life as a result of they couldn’t navigate getting assist, as a result of they have been a pilot, that will get me. And that’s why we’re doing this. That’s why we’re placing this out all people must find out about PAN.”

One other is Aviation Medication Advisory Service or AMAS, which works with ALPA and operates confidentially from airline administration, the FAA, and the general public. AMAS can work with a pilot to assemble a plan to return to finish psychological well being and safely maintain or regain flight standing as quickly as attainable.

SWAPA additionally has assets

“The SWAPA Quantity” podcast by Southwest Airways Pilots Affiliation or SWAPA additionally has addressed assets for pilots needing psychological well being care. SWAPA has the same program to PAN and calls it the ProjectLift program. For its chair Chess Fulton,

“Challenge LIFT is there once you want somebody to speak to that has the information and assets that can assist you get by your subject, and we all know the influence of the totally different programs of motion relating to to your profession. And we offer these providers to members of the family too. We’ve seen a marked enhance in teen melancholy and suicidal ideation. So should you or a member of the family is having a problem, please name.”

ProjectLift volunteers are peer Southwest pilots, properly educated in addressing psychological well being points, in addition to capable of finding high quality backup when wanted. The SWAPA union additionally will work with a pilot present process psychological well being challenges to get recertified with the FAA.

Moreover, as to suicide prevention, ProjectLift is a instrument – however not the one instrument – out there to stop suicides. Particular strategies are additionally used, like speaking about every subject and understanding that, as ProjectLift committee member Matt Foust defined,

“When somebody is suicidal, all meaning is that they’re depressed. Suicide is the final word results of being depressed.”

Therefore the necessity for early and, if attainable collegial intervention to avoid wasting lives. After all, if somebody seems to be an instantaneous suicide threat – calling your nationwide suicide prevention hotline is an ethical selection. Particularly as suicide is a everlasting answer to a short lived drawback.


Sure, if an airline pilot is having psychological well being challenges – there are assets to assist that pilot climb away from them.

Photograph: Joe Kunzler | Easy Flying

Pilots want to achieve out to their union for psychological well being assets when feeling down or off. It’s simple and honorable to achieve out for assist. It’s additionally more and more acknowledged that pilots have a worrying job – a job, within the phrases of F-14 pilot turned airline pilot Terry Deitz to, that includes the next:

There are 150 folks sitting behind me. However that actually means 15,000. As a result of 100 individuals are going to go to every a type of folks’s funerals, that’s how I give it some thought.

Add to that accountability the pilot fatigue points at Delta Air Traces and Southwest Airways of late. Plus, the non-public obligations pilots have, like household and payments. One can see how the great work of being an airline pilot stretches the psychological well being of pilots to the restrict. In search of out a peer to debate office points is finest for all – regardless of their office.

Do you assume sufficient is being achieved for pilot’s psychological well being? Why or why not? Tell us within the feedback please.

Sources: December 28, 2020 Related Press, FAA – Pilot Medical Certification Q&A,

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