Feds probing 5,000 pilots suspected of hiding major health issues

BUSINESS INSIDER – Federal authorities have been probing roughly 5,000 pilots who officials believe may have falsified their medical records to hide that they were earning benefits for significant health issues that could imperil their ability to fly safely, The Washington Post reported.

The pilots who have had their records examined are military veterans who informed the Federal Aviation Administration that they were suitable to fly, but didn’t disclose that they were also receiving veterans benefits for various disabilities that could prevent them from effectively sitting in a pilot’s seat.

Veterans Affairs investigators stumbled on the record inconsistencies over two years ago, but the FAA had not publicly disclosed many aspects of the investigation, according to The Post.

FAA spokesman Matthew Lehner told The Post that the agency had been probing around 4,800 pilots “who might have submitted incorrect or false information as part of their medical applications” and indicated that roughly half of the cases were closed.

The spokesman also said 60 pilots who “posed a clear danger to aviation safety” were — for the moment — barred from the cockpit while their records were being looked over by officials.

“According to The Post, some veterans have downplayed their health conditions to the FAA in efforts to retain their eligibility to fly, while also inflating the severity their health conditions to the Veterans Administration in order to boost their disability payments.”

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Nearly 600 of the pilots who are being probed have licenses to fly the general public on passenger airlines, according to individuals with knowledge of the cases who spoke to The Post.

Many of the other pilots possess commercial licenses, which gives them ability to be hired to fly for a range of clients.

Pilots have to pass regular health screenings, but according to The Post, the tests are often not always comprehensive.

And the FAA is reliant on pilots disclosing conditions that officials may not be able to pinpoint …


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