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This talking point, while well intentioned, is an example of gaslighting. The difference between disqualification and years of grounding in addition to thousands of dollars of unnecessary medical tests is not always clear to pilots. This is compounded by the fact that the medical standards used by the FAA are not in line with modern clinical standards. The office of Aerospace Medicine continually asks pilots to question the validity of their own experiences with the aeromedical system while presenting a distorted view of reality to Congress and the general public.
If pilots were not burdened with the threat of certificate loss every time they sought healthcare, then they would seek healthcare at the same rate (or higher, given the stressful nature of flying careers) of the general population. They do not. The FAA's aeromedical certification system discourages pilots from seeking healthcare by design. The data on this is unambiguous and matches perfectly with anecdotal reports from those dealing with the aeromedical system.
It's time for the FAA to admit this problem is not being imagined by pilots, but is a direct, if inadvertent, result of current policies.
Yes and no.
There’s no denying that steps are being made in the right direction. However, history would conclude that large organizations with entrenched interests and organizational cultures do not often willingly change on their own, external pressure is often required.
We applaud the FAA for taking some initial steps in the right direction. It's now up to pilots, the medical community and regulators to work together to reinvent a system that most pilots acknowledge is broken. Together, we can forge a brighter path forward for all aviators.