deferred class 3 medical, student pilot. advice?
2 Posts
I am a student pilot with about 12 hours of flight lessons under my belt. A month ago, I saw a medical examiner for a class 3 medical certificate for a PPL. There were no issues other than that I had checked "Anxiety" in the paperwork. I had taken an anti-depressant for a while to help with sleep and general anxiety and had discontinued it at the beginning of this year with no issues. In a phonecall conversation with the FAA Aeromedical Examiner office I was told that for having taken an anti-depressant at any time in my life, I would be automatically deferred and that it would be best to go ahead and get the process started. Bummer.

I have slowed down my lessons to once a week. I am concerned that the process may take so long that I'll reach the point of going solo before I get the certificate sorted out. Or worse, than I put the time and money in, but then ultimately get denied. I've read varying reports of the round trip process taking many months or even more than a year. What should I expect? I've been told by the Aeromedical Examiner office that they will be requesting more information, but they won't provide a timeline.

I was told on the phone by the Aeromidical Examiner office that I could bring additional information about doctor visits and that the AME could add that to my submission. I did so. Unfortunately, the AME used a 3rd party to actually submit the paperwork. I have no idea who the third party is, or if that's legal. Turns out the AME is not a pilot either. When I called to verify my application had been received, they had no records of the additional information I had provided. 

And for an added complication, my prescribing doctor is out on maternity leave for the next 6 months, so I'd have to find a substitute to provide a response for the FAA. I have no idea whether that is permissible.

Has anyone been through the deferral process for this issue and know what to expect? Is there a typical turnaround time? I was told applications are reviewed in the order they were received, but I imagine I am low on the priority list as I am working on the PPL for fun, not to make a living on being a pilot. 

3 Replies
The third question is critical, which you didn't address.....and I am hoping the answer is "single episode in your life".  FAA breaks down depression/anxiety into illness that has already recurred +is though will re-occur, vs One-offs.  Having reviewed many many PCP records, they almost  never deal with any but the "current situation" because that's what we taught them in the 3 weeks of training we can give Family Medicine trainees.  So your comment that a note from primary care that has some history with me, is highly unlikely to "cut it".

But given the above FAA view, the long history needs be recorded in the record so that FAA-psychiatry can do their thing.  Or you will keep getting demands, eventually ending up in seeing the FAA credentialed HIMS psychiatrist.

Sorry it wasn't what you wanted to see, but this is what I do.
PS In FAA land,  psychiatrist is not equal to pscyhologist, and you're right, FAA will want those notes, too..

2 Posts
That was not the response I was hoping to see.

No to dual meds. I don't know what you mean by "had severity". Certainly no self harm or suicide threats or anything of that nature, if that's what you're asking about. And I'm not sure what is on my record due to the 3rd party transmission of records.

Are you suggesting that a single visit with a psychiatrist to go over my life history would be better than a note from primary care that has some history with me? As an aside, it seems primary care doctors are quick to prescribe medications like an anti-depressant without going to a psychiatrist. I did see a psychologist for a bit for talk therapy, but he does not give diagnoses nor write prescriptions. Would a statement or evaluation from him be of any help? Or is this all too early to say without actually having heard from the FAA?

Not a good situation. 
So to give you a good answer and some insight I have to ask you some quex that you may or may not be comofrotable posting on a public
Have you ever had "severity"
Have you ever had dual meds?
Have you ever had more than one episode (period medicated) per the record?

It sounds like this AME is not providing you with much help- and in the situation the AME of record is the ONLY one who can call the agency on your behalf. 

Given the maternity leave, I'd suggest you follow up with a PSYCHIATRIST in your insurance system.  It sounds like the good, complete lifelong history that his note would provide the FAA would go a long way to sorting out what you need (Never mind the current status report).

Sadly, I have found it true as has FAA, that the notes of a Primary care doc working psychiatry.....well, I'll just say, "leave a lot to be desired".