Aviation Safety: FAA Should Improve Usability of its Online Application System and Clarity of the Pilot's Medical Form

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Aerospace medical experts GAO interviewed generally agreed that the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) medical standards are appropriate and supported FAA's recent data-driven efforts to improve its pilot medical-certification process. Each year, about 400,000 candidates apply for a pilot's medical certificate and complete a medical exam to determine whether they meet FAA's medical standards. From 2008 through 2012, on average, about 90 percent of applicants have been medically certified by an FAA-designated aviation medical examiner (AME) at the time of their medical exam or by a Regional ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. April 8, 2014.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Aerospace medical experts GAO interviewed generally agreed that the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) medical standards are appropriate and supported FAA's recent data-driven efforts to improve its pilot medical-certification process. Each year, about 400,000 candidates apply for a pilot's medical certificate and complete a medical exam to determine whether they meet FAA's medical standards. From 2008 through 2012, on average, about 90 percent of applicants have been medically certified by an FAA-designated aviation medical examiner (AME) at the time of their medical exam or by a Regional Flight Surgeon. Of the remaining applicants, about 8.5 percent have received a special issuance medical certificate (special issuance) after providing additional medical information to FAA. Approximately 1.2 percent were not medically certified to fly. According to an industry association, the special issuance process adds time and costs to the application process, in part, because applicants might not understand what additional medical information they need to provide to FAA. Officials from FAA's medical certification division have said that technological problems with the aging computer systems that support the medical certification process have contributed to delays in the special issuance process. FAA's medical certification division has identified about 50 potential technological enhancements to its internal computer systems that support the medical certification process, of which about 20 have been identified as high priority, but the division has not yet implemented them or developed a timeline to do so. By developing a timeline to implement the highest-priority enhancements, FAA would take another step toward expediting the certification process for many applicants hoping to obtain a special issuance. FAA recently established a datadriven process using historic medical and accident data that authorizes AMEs to certify a greater number of applicants with medical conditions who had previously required a special issuance. Officials expect this effort to allow more applicants to be certified at the time of their AME visit and to free resources at FAA to focus on applicants with higher-risk medical conditions."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • April 8, 2014

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Aviation Safety: FAA Should Improve Usability of its Online Application System and Clarity of the Pilot's Medical Form, report, April 8, 2014; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302476/: accessed September 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.