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FAA Expands Program To Expedite Special-Issuance Medical Renewals...

A new program that took effect earlier this month allows Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) to expedite the renewal of special-issuance first-, second- and third-class medical certificates. The program, called AME Assisted Special Issuance (AASI), means that once an application requiring a special issuance (SI) for one of 20 specified conditions is reviewed and issued by the FAA, pilots then can go to their AME for a renewal, provide all the necessary medical reports, and if the condition has not changed, walk out the same day with another valid SI medical. The AASI program was implemented in 2002 for third-class SI medicals, and has now been expanded. In effect, it bypasses the often time-consuming review by the FAA Aeromedical Certification Division in Oklahoma City, which receives thousands of applications and medical reports each day and processes about 450,000 every year. The Federal Air Surgeons Medical Bulletin credits AOPA with proposing the program.

Before the new rule took effect, AMEs had to get permission from the Federal Air Surgeon, a regional flight surgeon, or the manager of the Aerospace Medical Certification Division to issue medical certificates to a person who has a medical condition that requires a special issuance. Under the new rule, the first time the special issuance is requested, it still must follow that procedure. But now, subsequent renewals -- for certain specified conditions -- can be approved by the AME. The conditions that qualify for the streamlined renewals include: Arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, colitis, colon/colorectal cancer, diabetes Type II, glaucoma, hepatitis C, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease, migraine headaches, mitral or aortic insufficiency, monocularity, paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, prostate cancer, renal calculi, and sleep apnea. For more details on each of these conditions, go to the FAA Web site.