NTSB Report Critical Of FAA Medical Oversight

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The NTSB last week cited the FAA's "inadequate medical certification ... and follow-up" as a factor in an Alaska crash that killed a pilot. The pilot was flying alone carrying cargo in a twin turboprop Beech C-45H en route to Kodiak in June 2004. After holding for 45 minutes waiting for weather to improve, he was cleared for an ILS approach, but he never landed. Searchers found the airplane had impacted a nearby island. The NTSB blamed the pilot's failure to follow the correct missed-approach procedures, but also noted traces of cocaine, alcohol and over-the-counter cold medication found in his system. The FAA knew of the pilot's substance-abuse problems and should have done more to follow up, the NTSB said. The pilot had a long history of drug and alcohol problems, and had landed on a taxiway in Anchorage in January 2004, according to the NTSB report. Willis Simmons, the FAA's regional flight surgeon in Alaska, told the Anchorage Daily News, "I don't know that we knew he had substance-abuse problems. He had a history of substance-abuse problems. There's a difference."