The Difficult FAA Medical Certification
FOR SLEEP APNEA, go to "BLOGS" and down to "Current Projects" (04/02/2013)

This is the webpage of Bruce Chien, Senior AME.  I'm a full-time "difficult case" AME and have been in this subspecialty about since 1999, full time since October 2010. I've had the honor of serving on AOPA's Board of Aviation Medical Advisors, and in so serving have become intimately familiar with the federal view of Aviation Medical Certification, as well as knowledgeable on a first name basis with the Federal Personnel in Oklahoma City. It's been an honor.

Those of you with ongoing problems have likely read my column in Twin and Turbine (July 2006-2009), as well as have seen my commentaries on the AOPA V-bulletin message board (http://forums.aopa.org ). I'm located in Peoria, Illinois and evaluate about 600 difficult medicals per year. Most of these are issued on AAM 331 authorization, telephonically, after detailed gathering of required medical data, and transmission of same if appropriate. Appropriate is determined by the airman's continuing to determine that an application for medical certification is desired; there is NEVER a submission if the result isn't >99% already known to us.

How can the result be known before submission? Detail, Detail, Detail, and a thorough knowledge of the current thinking of the Civil Aeromedical Institute. A knowledge of the external experts used by FAA and their takes on the many subjects also cannot but help. Having spent a week in Feb 2011 with three colleagues doing Special Issuances with the examiners gives a lot of insight.

Unlike the various large "PMS" vendors, an actual AME doing the co-ordination work and guiding your physicians actually has standing to call the agency on your behalf. This is very different from receiving a list of data to obtain/submit. I actually communicate with your physicians....and with the federal physicians if appropriate. This saves WEEKS and WEEKS of time while your PC12 sits on the ground (which would drive me bonkers).

Most pilots using a "certification expert" are not in the situation of wanting to preserve Sport Pilot privileges (a final interaction which is a denial, results in loss of the ability to use a 50 state Driver's License in lieu of medical qualification for PIC duties in a Light Sport Aircraft). However, some seriously desire to protect this privilege, and if the data are not clearly certifiable, NO APPLICATION IS SUBMITTED until we are comfortable with the risks. If concerned about LSA privileges, please be SURE to go to the blog page under "Current Projects" for commentary on the AOPA/EAA exemption petition (12/2011). It's pretty clear at the present time that this proposal was too extreme and is dead. Our AUSSIE buddies got "super light sport" in the summer of 2012, on a GP signoff (180 hp, day VFR, 2up, Fixed gear & prop); we had FAA support for State CDL signoff (the closest we thing we have) for that, but Mr. Fuller did not want anything practically achievable.

For those of you in the business, this service is rather like ALPA medical, except I can actually issue the certificate. Yes, 95% of the time you can exercise your Class 1 AFTER myocardial infarction and/or stenting. No, a single loss of consciousness is not necessarily the end. I have many airline guys flying around with Atrial Fibrillation; designated pilot examiners, too. Usually, it's a matter of proper documentation. Lastly, for those of you who know about HIMS, your sponsor can be local.

PLEASE ALSO see the photo section for June 13, 2013 "expansion" of authority to AMEs, or  "CACI". There are numerous policy changes. SI conditions that meet these standards are issued and documented only at each exam, and are RELIEVED of SI paperwork.


Satellite office at the KPIA passenger terminal is now open, just across from the baggage claim carousels. See photos (6100 W Dirksen Parkway).