Congress Examines Pilot Medical Record Fraud

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Does the FAA need to do more to ensure that pilots are not lying about dangerous medical problems so they can keep their certification? That's the question that was discussed in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday at a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Aviation. Investigators with the DOT Office of Inspector General say they have discovered thousands of "egregious cases" of airmen lying about debilitating medical conditions on their applications for airman medical certificates. The FAA said it would be too labor-intensive to cross-check and verify every application, and the safety risk would not justify the resources it would consume. The subcommittee said that response was "unacceptable," and this week's hearing was part of the continuing effort to address the issue. Among the witnesses was AOPA President Phil Boyer, who proposed some simple steps to inform and educate pilots and cross-check a random sample of applications. "Pilots are law-abiding people, and they don't want to defraud the government," Boyer said. "And they don't want to fly unsafely." He said that only 0.25 percent of all general aviation accidents were caused by medical incapacitation, and only nine accidents in nine years were caused by the incapacitation of a pilot flying with a fraudulent medical certificate.