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Sun, Apr 09, 2006

ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (04.09.06): 'Self-Certification'

Aero-Tips!

A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of "there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.

Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner, master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us -- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we might never have considered before, or something that didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for the practical test.

It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow them to soar magnificently through it.

Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips. Remember... when it comes to being better pilots, we're all in this together.

Aero-Tips 04.09.06

Almost all pilots (except Sport Pilots and those flying gliders or free balloons) must hold a valid FAA medical certificate to exercise the privileges of their pilot certificate. Physical examinations are valid ranging from six months (1st class certificate to exercise an Airline Transport Pilot, or ATP certificate) to three years (3rd class medical for Private or Recreational privileges if the pilot is under age 40).

We are required, however, to self-certify our fitness to fly every time we prepare to fly.

Some medical conditions mandate disqualification for flight , including:

  • Personality disorder manifested by over acts
  • Psychosis
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug dependence
  • Epilepsy
  • Unexplained unconsciousness
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Angina pectoris
  • Diabetes requiring medication to control

Other conditions may be temporarily disqualifying , such as:

  • Acute infections
  • Anemia
  • Peptic ulcer
Not Feeling Well

Say you've happily avoided all of the above, and you just feel a little under the weather. Or, you have a condition that passed a Special Issuance medical, but now symptoms worsen. Can you still fly?

Even a minor illness suffered can seriously degrade performance vital to safe flight. Fever and distracting symptoms can impair judgment, memory, alertness, and the ability to make calculations. Gastrointestinal illness and dental problems are especially insidious because they can trap gases in the body that can expand to cause debilitating pain at altitude.

Although you might be able to control symptoms with medication, even over-the-counter remedies may dangerously decrease pilot performance.

From the Feds : "The [Federal Air Regulations] prohibit a pilot who possesses a current medical certificate from performing crewmember duties while the pilot has a known medical condition or increase of a known medical condition that would make the pilot unable to meet the standards for the medical certificate."

Aero-tip of the day: If a flight requires you hold a medical certificate, ultimately it's up to you to determine if you're healthy enough to fly. Make this decision wisely because pain, decreased motor skills or impaired judgment can have very real adverse consequences.

FMI: Aero-Tips

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