John King Hits FAA Medical Inflexibility
The FAA is shooting itself in the foot with its inflexible attitude on medical disqualifications according to veteran instructor and aviation industry leader John King. King, who owns King Schools with his wife Martha, told AVweb in a podcast interview that he’ll be appealing the loss of his medical to an NTSB administrative law judge at a hearing that will likely be held this coming summer. That’s his last avenue of appeal after his appeal to the Federal Air Surgeon was rejected, he says, without due consideration. “The FAA’s inflexibility on this is not only bad for the individual they’re being inflexible toward but it’s also bad for the aviation community and it’s bad for the FAA themselves,” he said. “This has cost them a lot of goodwill with pilots.” That, in turn, has caused congressional action mandating things like third class medical reform, when all the agency has to do is follow its own guidelines in terms of fairness and risk-based analysis.
King said his journey through the FAA medical bureaucracy began when he fell back into bed one morning in 2014 and didn’t come around as fast as Martha thought he should. A trip to the hospital confirmed he’d had a seizure. Follow-up visits with two neurologists didn’t find any clinical cause for the seizure so his doctors wrote it off as a one-off event likely caused by too much coffee, too little sleep and the effects of a medication he was using to fight an infection. King resumed flying and when his medical lapsed he reported the incident and was disqualified. In the case of seizures, the FAA can disqualify for a minimum of two years if the seizure is considered “provoked” but if the seizure’s cause has not been determined the FAA requires a pilot to wait at least four years before reapplying. King maintains his seizure was caused by his physical state at the time and he’s no more likely to have another seizure than anyone else is. He’s had none since. And while he’s anxious to get his flying privileges restored, he’s more interested in having the FAA change its ways in medical disqualification cases like his. He said the agency needs to “become more flexible and follow some of these core values of treating people like individuals and making risk-based management decisions.”