Four No-brainer Health Tips Almost Every Pilot Forgets

Is it a pilot’s health matter or passengers’ safety matter?

Based on psychology it is known for centuries that you are what you eat so we don’t need to mention that health is the most crucial element in someone’s life. So we can see now the importance of a healthy pilot, which goes beyond the personal side to approaches the sides of people whom he is transporting.

In other words, a pilot can’t fly if he doesn’t feel good as a result he must take care of his health. Imagine this; you are drinking alcohol, eating so much fast food, lazy, smoking, and just few hours later you are obliged to carry hundreds of bags and deliver them as fast as you can but under one condition; the delivered items must be handed out safely, Can you do this task? Normally and under the pressure of not handling properly your health you won’t be able to accomplish the task, so we can see it clearly now, how can a pilot fly if he is not healthy, that will undoubtedly be unsafe for the passengers.

So, unhealthy aspects shape together several advices for a good pilot’s health, these advices are exposed as the following tips;

Don’t smoke

as it is proven by so many professional studies; smoking decreases the level of concentration, and a non-concentrated pilot will be absolutely not needed in this industry. Moreover smoking always makes it hard to breathe which causes the full concentration on next breath. Not to mention the massive number of diseases that can be caused by smoking and a pilot won’t definitely want them.

Avoid a lot of sitting

being physically active is the key for a healthy life, ones a pilot is active his concentration levels will automatically increase and the urge to bad health habits will disappear. And that have a really close relation with sickness; active body is the cure to a sick body; in this sense we can clearly notice that increased physical activity means low sickness potentials. Being active is simpler than you can imagine, just by avoiding a lot of sitting and sleeping directly after eating instead you may have a walk and enjoy the weather or the company. It is so easy to be lazy but it’s easier to be active, just try to break up your relationship with television and explore the world.

Keep your brain always active

being mentally active is as important and being physically active, how can a car work without engine, is the same situation for a brain, and pilot is obliged to have enough fuel for his brain as it is the first factor that make his reactions effective. A pilot’s brain can be easily active by reading, talking to people, learning and also by debating and these activities will definitely take you away from television, that tool that hypnotizes you brain and thoughts and stops its development forward.

Eating habits

will this tip can be generally approved by anyone but for pilots without this tip that completes the previous ones it looks like a piece is missing and the full body can work without it. And as learning fuels a pilot’s brain, food fuels a pilot’s body so it is a relation of balance and complementariness. So pilots must watch out what the eat and if it tastes good then it is no good for you dear pilot

These tips institute one unit homogeneous to give a chance for a pilot to be identical to the shape of a perfect pilot, and as I wrote this article I believe that these simple tips will guide a pilot to build a good health. And before I sum up I recommend consulting the doctor before making any changes according to your health just for your safety we definitely don’t want to hurt a pilot. As a last word I will say live healthy and have unlimited flies dear pilot!

Aeromedical Certification after alcohol or drug infractions *****8500-8 Section 18.v.

FAA Medical Exam

FAA Medical Exam

Aviators are a special breed, often close to adventure and active socially. When they are not flying, they may be subject to indiscretion and bad choices. A few may be involved in an incident involving alcohol or drug abuse that becomes a police matter.These are very serious situations both for the individual’s health and well-being, family, and aviation certification. The FAA medical application Form 8500 screens for these two issues in item 18 V

if there have been any administrative proceedings, arrests or convictions.

Many times the infraction involves driving a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol.  While drug offenses are far less common, they clearly pose a very significant issue for medical certification. Pilots that use narcotics clearly cross a boundary of good judgment. A history of substance dependence is disqualifying and requires review by the Federal Air Surgeon.

The FAA routinely reviews every Medxpress application for alcohol offenses in every state department of motor vehicle databases. This is also true for all criminal arrest and convictions for drug related offenses.  Failure of the aviator to disclose these issues on the era medical certification examination also constitutes grounds for administrative and criminal proceedings for falsifying the application.

The FAA says that a single arrest or conviction for driving while intoxicated will not be grounds for denial.  However it will trigger the aviation medical examiner (AME) to defer if adequate documentation is not provided to the AME within 14 days of the examination.  Necessary documentation includes a number of criteria that must be met to reach the threshold for issuance by the AME.Often the next step will be a review by the Aeromedical Certification Division in Oklahoma City. The pilot will receive a letter from them within a couple of weeks asking for documentation as to the offense:

  • the legal proceedings such as court records and arrest reports
  • a detailed personal statement as to the history of alcohol use and any legal matters related to it
  • a complete copy of the driving record for the last 10 years in any state where the individual has held a motor vehicle license
  • a substance abuse evaluation by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or addiction specialist

The FAA has a protocol in assessing the severity of alcohol related motor vehicle offenses. The number of offenses is a crucial factor in the review.  Having more than one is an indicator of a pattern of abuse and disregard for the law.

The FAA has a worse view of individuals that refuse to cooperate with authorities to obtain a blood alcohol level. So simply refusing to take the test creates assumptions that are worse for gaining certification.

Another key issue is a blood alcohol level at the time of the arrest. Usually a driver suspected of driving while impaired will be given a field sobriety test or breathalyzer.  The next step is a blood specimen which is the gold standard.  In most states the threshold for impairment is 0.08 mg/dL of alcohol.

The FAA looks at a blood alcohol level greater than 0.16 mg/dL as indicating a more severe alcohol problem. The FAA views this threshold of double the legal limit more closely for three reasons.

  • First, it indicates that the aviator was operating a motor vehicle with enough alcohol to show a significant impairment in judgment.
  • Second, that driver probably had some degree of chronic alcoholism such that their level of comfort driving was a practiced behavior.
  • Third, this would indicate that the arrest was somewhat random and there were other times that the individual thought they could drive while impaired.

So the blood-alcohol threshold of 0.16 mg/dL will open the FAA investigation to a more thorough review of the potential for chronic alcohol abuse. The in-depth review of legal and medical records and a new psychological profile will be necessary for the recertification.

When I review the medical application with a new DWI offense, I try to counsel the aviator that they need to be cooperative and proactive. They will need to provide the necessary documentation and immediately begin to put together that package of reports and legal forms.

As with other medical issues, the FAA needs to do a thorough review before recertification. However as I said before, a high blood alcohol level indicates a more chronic pattern of abuse or that there is a disregard for the safety of others.

The FAA can also mandate that a pilot go to a recognized expert in the field that they will designate. These examinations are quite comprehensive and go beyond the issue of alcohol use. They are truly global psychological evaluations that encompass underlying motivation, personality, and cognitive function.

Commercial airline pilots can ask their employers and unions to access dedicated counseling and assistance programs. Aviators with alcohol related issues also have programs in the FAA has its own HIMS program.



I have enjoyed scuba diving for many years. As a physician, I am fascinated with the physiology of barometric pressure and offloading gases within the body.  I did advanced hyperbaric training through Divers Alert Network and through New York Medical College where I am a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine.

Decompression sickness is the medical condition arising from dissolved gases coming out of the bloodstream and producing bubbles within the body. This condition is also known as the Bends.

These bubbles can migrate within the body and cause joint pain, paralysis and even death. The most common symptom is local joint pain. Pain in the arms is twice as frequent as pain in the legs. Almost all of the decompression sickness occurs within the first eight hours.

There are various forms of decompression sickness including arterial gas embolism and barotrauma. Some of the most severe conditions arise when air bubbles form in the central nervous system, spinal cord, or brain.  There are so many manifestations of decompression sickness that almost any symptoms occurring after diving could be explained as a consequence.

We typically think of decompression sickness is occurring in scuba divers. However, this also occurs to astronauts when they perform a spacewalk and the pressure in the spacesuit is lower than the pressure in the spacecraft.

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Congratulations Marcos Franca to become private pilot!

OFC happily announces that today our student and friend MARCOS FRANCA passed his checkride to become a Private Pilot!  Congratulations Marcos, and well done.

MARCOS FRANCA passed his checkride to become a Private Pilot!

MARCOS FRANCA passed his checkride to become a Private Pilot! (Marcos on the right)

Orlandi Flight Center

Orlandi Flight Center

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – Pilot – FAA Medical Exam


Pilots are concerned about a new medical standard for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) by the Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The concern is that pilots with a serious weight problem will be adversely affected in their recertification. I would like to present my perspective as a senior AME. My thoughts are my own and not necessarily shared by the powers that be.

Obstructive sleep apnea may cause functional impairment for safe aircraft operations. OSA literally means that someone stops breathing during sleep or effectively loses the ability to oxygenate the blood stream. This is because the upper airway is partially or completely blocked during sleep. Therefore the chest muscles and diaphragm must work much harder to open the airway and maintain respiration.

Sometimes a spouse or significant other will notice that during sleep an individual has difficulty maintaining normal respiration or, in fact, there are long pauses between breaths. Patient will come to the office with this clear witnessed account of sleep apnea and we request that a sleep study be done.  This involves going to a sleep lab and spending the night while being monitored.

However doctors also should be looking for symptoms of daytime sleepiness, excessive fatigue, non-restorative sleep, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, snoring, and inability to stay awake during common activities during the day.

Overwhelmingly the patients at risk for this are not aware of the condition. Therefore, prospective screening is the best way to diagnose and manage patients with OSA.  There are estimated to be more than 12 million people in the United States at this time with sleep apnea. More than half of those individuals are overweight. It tends to occur in middle-age man and older woman.  The risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea include obesity, thick or large next, and smokers.

The FAA’s concerned that OSHA will result in impaired pilot performance. The FAA has published the Guidelines indicating that mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea can show performance degradation equivalent to 0.06 to  0.08% blood alcohol levels which is the measure of legal intoxication in most states.  There’s also the increasing risk of hypertension and atherosclerosis with the resulting increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.  In fact 30 to 50% of patients with heart disease and 60% of patients suffering strokes are found to have obstructive sleep apnea.

The FAA medical guidelines indicate that OSA is present in almost all obese individuals with a body mass index over 40 and the next circumference greater than 17 inches.  Untreated obstructive sleep apnea is a disqualifying condition for airmen and air traffic control specialists.

The next steps in the process will be for the pilot to have a BMI and neck circumference measured during the medical examination. Those airman with high BMI above 40 and neck circumference greater than 17 will be asked to undergo specialized evaluation by a sleep disorder specialist.

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Duration of FAA Pilot medical certificates

Many pilots ask if we could recap the duration for their medical certificates. and the frequency for the EKG for the first class airmen.

  1. First Class Medical Certificate: A first class medical certificate is valid for the remainder of the month of issue; plus

o    6 calendar months for operations requiring a first class medical certificate if the airman is age 40 or over on or before the date of the examination, or

o    12-calendar months for operations requiring a first-class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination, or

o    12 calendar months for operations requiring a second class medical certificate, or

o    24 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate if the airman is age 40 or over on or before the date of the examination, or

o    60 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination. *

EKG is first done on the first medical exam after the airman’s 35th birthday.

The next EKG is done on the first medical exam after the airman’s 40th birthday.

After that one EKG is done every 12 months.

Please note that having the EKG in proper sequence with the medical is vital to maintaining the first class certificate.

After 12 months, an airman who does not have a current EKG will lose the first class certificate as it reverts to a Second class automatically.

    2. Second Class Medical Certificate: A second class medical certificate is valid for the remainder of the month of issue; plus

o    12 calendar months for operations requiring a second class medical certificate, or

o    24 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate, if the airman is age 40 or over on or before the date of the examination, or

o    60 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination. *

     3. Third Class Medical Certificate: A third-class medical certificate is valid for the remainder of the month of issue; plus

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6th Annual International Aviation Medical Examiner Seminar – presenting cutting Edge Technology

Cool gadgets in Aviation! Check out the latest: X2 Biosystem (TBA) and Heart Rate & Pulse Oximeter Monitor – Cutting Edge Technology.

Once every 2 years, the FAA sponsors a medical education program in Europe for Senior Aviation Medical Examiners.  It is a terrific opportunity to learn directly from the top FAA medical leadership.  This year traveling to Munich from Oklahoma City and the FAA medical headquarters were 3 senior staff.  We learned about the new EKG transmission standards, CACI and special issuance rules, and discussed the future of aviation medicine with our colleagues from all parts of the world.

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Lasik Correction for Pilot



From: Raymond Basri <xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx >
Date: June 24, 2014 11:03:41 AM EDT
To: <xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re:  LASIK

That is very good news indeed. I’m happy you are satisfied with the results. You should bring the report from the eye specialist as well as completing your Medxpress online application listing it as a surgical procedure.

I look forward to seeing you on your next visit and removing your vision restriction from your certificate.


On Jun 24, 2014, at 09:14 AM,  < xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx > wrote:

Hey Dr. Basri – how’s things?  Hope your summer is off to a good start.

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