Top Letters And Comments, September 8, 2023


Accident Probe: Exceeding Capabilities

[…]I flew the Classic Whale for 16 years plus 16 years in the C-141. They both are hot wings, of course, and icing wasn’t a real problem because we passed through those icing levels quickly. My flight experience in the T-29 and C-118 (CV 240 and DC-6) was a different case. All was out of Mather in Sacramento, CA, and icing was a continuous issue all winter especially because we flew the -29 mainly at the freezing level. We had hot wings and empennage plus prop heat. It was a real challenge to keep the temps maxed out, the carb temp at 15 degrees max, the MAP where needed, etc., ad nauseum. With the big radome underneath, we often came home really loaded down with ice. Even had to open the DV window on occasion to crack enough ice off the windshield to see to land. Ah, the good old days of 145 avgas, props, and round engines.

David C.

A friend of mine died when the C208 he was flying was overwhelmed by ice in Wisconsin. He crashed in a ravine that night. One time, I had so much ice on the C208 I was flying that all I could do was 120kts going downhill on the glide slope on the ILS approach I was doing. Even though Caravans are certified for known ice, there are a lot of unprotected surfaces and they can pick up ice very quickly with all the drag associated with that. In 2006, an AD changed all the icing procedures in the Caravan. Seems to have worked as there have not been as many pilot fatalities due to pilots getting into ice conditions the plane cannot handle.

Matt W.

Flight Plan Follies

This is a great behind the scenes insight that, unless you have visited a TRACON or other facility, you may never know. Thank you for sharing this process and the things you and your colleagues do to make this the safest airspace in the world!

Stephen B.

Poll: Is The FAA Right To Investigate Pilots Also Receiving VA Disability Benefits?

  • VA disability can be something as simple as tinnitus and not impactful to medical qualification. I know more non-vets flying with undeclared medical conditions to avoid a special issuance or potential denial. Vets are an easy target because there’s documentation, relevant or not.
  • Airlines and the military have different missions. A military disability may not be a civilian disability.
  • Making false statements to obtain veterans disability pay or a flight medical certificate is a Federal crime. The 60 airmen being sanctioned not only committed 2 federal crimes, they were found to have concealed medical or mental diagnoses suggesting flight safety issues. The govt is in the right this time, like it or not.
  • No, but for a different reason: Either we believe AME’s, or we don’t. If a person is fit to fly, they’re fit to fly. If they have a qualifying disability per the VA, so what? Those conditions may be independent of each other; if they’re not, then we have to allow each party to exercise their qualified judgement and trust that judgement.
  • I don’t have a problem with a vet collecting disability money for injuries suffered as the result of their service. Full stop. However, failing to disclose their disability on their medical certificate application may be problematic. Even with that being the case, not all disabilities are disqualifying. As much as I detest government overreach, I’d rather that the medicos have the opportunity to review certain conditions that may adversely affect safety. It’s a fine line to walk.
  • If there’s clear evidence that a person lied on their medical application then investigate away. But, unless the FAA has clear probable cause, I’m sure they can think of other things to be doing.
  • The incidence of investigation is a violation of privacy unless the FAA was notified by the VA that a pilot was discharged for being unable to fly.
  • Irrelevant. Orwell warned us that once a tool (like LLMs or CRISPR or TNT) is invented for perfectly reasonable purposes, it WILL be abused. The problem isn’t the FAA investigating, the problem is in rationalizing multiple definitions of “disability” as defined by multiple government bureaucracies. Anyone attempting to do so should first admit that this is not NP-complete.
  • Disability does not mean unqualified, but warrants review. But….All should be under the same scrutiny.
  • If the pilot can pass a class one physical, why does a service-connected disability matter? My husband is a veteran with a disability for Gerd and various other things Gerd causes, but he could still fly a plane. It took so long for veterans to finally get the help and benefits they so deserve, it is definitely wrong to mess with that. If they pass the physical, leave them alone.
  • I don’t agree with it, but since they’re both government agencies it is within their purview and should be able to exchange notes with each other.
  • We paid the price, leave us alone. Many disabilities are not disqualifying from flying.
  • If they are collecting benefits for a disability that disqualifies them from holding a medical certificate, then their medical should be revoked. If they are not genuinely disabled, they should be prosecuted for fraud.
  • No, just like the FAA can’t look at ALL pilot’s personal medical records.
  • If this is limited to looking at people lying on their medical, then okay.
  • You can be disabled and still able to fly. Not every disability is crippling. As someone that works full time and is 80% disabled, nothing I do interferes with any of my disabilities.
  • The VA and FAA, should have jurisdiction based on the fact that some service members may be erroneously receiving VA disability money. Or present an actual safety risk.
  • Depends. On. The. Type. Of. Disability. Some. Disability aren’t. Obvious. But. The. American. Disability. Act. Is. Pretty. Clear. And. People. With. Disabilities. Should. Not. Be. Discriminated. Against.
  • It is a huge violation of confidentiality, HIPPA, etc., in the absence of authorized release of information by the pilot.
  • The FAA needs to look at a different way of determining if someone is safe for flight. Especially with VA handing out PTSD diagnoses like candy.
  • Yes… If they are on disability, then they are unfit for duty. Simple.
  • No. They qualified for their current medical. What the VA considers disability is not disqualifying in most cases. e.g. tinnitus and they pass the hearing test in the room. I’ve had half a dozen airmen call me worried that they might have answered the question wrong because they had a VA disability from gunfire noise/tinnitus.
  • A Vet may be receiving a disability payment due to a loss of a leg, but still be able to fly with an artificial leg.
  • The definition of disability is incredibly broad and widely exploited by government employees and retirees.
  • Why do they need to investigate if they know what the benefits are for? Backs knees and ankles don’t need any action, but TBI might.
  • The pilots should GIVE UP their disability payments. They are (these days) making excellent money using their skills. Bring up the graft and corruption among vets, who are getting paid 100%, claiming full disability and working a full time job with OT.
  • Veteran’s disability and pilot certification are two entirely separate matters – NO.
  • A VA disability is granted when some is injured while a service member. It does not mean a person is prohibited to work.
  • Veteran concerned that the VA is sharing any vet health info with anyone that isn’t caring for the veteran.
  • Only is all agencies closely adhere to the same definition of “disability”, which has never been the case.
  • No. Not all VA disabilities affect one’s ability to work or safely fly a plane. Also, VA disability ratings are cumulative. So, just because someone is rated 100% disabled doesn’t mean they can’t work or function; it just means they have enough problems that equal 100%. I’ll more than likely get 40%when I get out due to nerve damage in my foot and my gallbladder. Doesn’t mean I’m unsafe to fly, or that those issues will prevent me from flying safely.
  • Yes, and the VA should be investigating disabled veterans working as pilots.
  • They can get a flight physical at the VA or military hospital to demonstrate air worthiness.
  • VA Disability is compensation for damage during service, not indication of a medical issue that would prevent flying.
  • Depends on the significance of the disability, and any flight dangers caused by the disability or medications taken to treat the disability.
  • No, VA disability benefits are not necessarily related to flight status ratings. FAA medically qualifies pilots for licenses and pilots must recertify periodically. These two systems have different purposes and intents.
  • They are getting disability for things that should cause them to fail their physicals so it may be fraudulent or dangerous. It’s not everyone with disability that flies, it is specific ailments/problems.
  • Why not? I’m receiving benefits. Reported it on my medical application with details. No problems.
  • Definitely investigate to see if there is any reason to take action.
  • Only if their disability might interfere with their performance.
  • They should investigate only those who didn’t report their disability.
  • BOTH possible safety risk AND fraud against federal govt., i.e., us all (where’s the disability?)
  • No, it will keep pilots from getting help that they need if they are worried about their medical instead of their health.
  • If the disability is in conflict with FAA medical certification standards, then obviously yes. Otherwise, no. You might no longer be able to use an ejection seat, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you can sit in a 737.
  • The FAA medical form asks about VA disability, are the applicants lying on the form?
  • Why just vets? Chase SSI and workmen comp cheats too!
  • There’s a thing called HIPPA. Yes. It’s a big overreach.
  • VA disability can happen for a number of reasons. Many having no bearing on the ability to safely pilot an aircraft. I (we) would appreciate more transparency from the FAA to understand the reasons for this request.
  • Disability has many levels and limitations on someone’s fitness for work. Losing a finger is a disability. It wouldn’t preclude a pilot from flying an airplane.
  • No, it should be fairly applied across the board instead of targeting veterans as a target of opportunity.
  • VA disability is usually just a welfare scam — taxpayer rip-off, not a safety of flight entity. FAA needs to bust Congress, not the pilots.
  • The company AME signed off the Class I physical and the VA physician assessing disability are not related.
  • FAA is correct in investigating pilots who lie on their applications.
  • Any investigation should be done by the VA. And only in cases of fraudulent claims.
  • Broad brush accusations.
  • Yes, they’re right doing it. This might get rid of some of the fraud in disability payments.
  • No, FAA should not investigate Disability, if pilot has current medical why VA disability should be an issue?
  • Trust but verify.

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