FAA Medical Certificates, the UND Aerospace Anti-Drug Program, and Legal Concerns for Incoming Students
All students planning to begin flight training at UND are advised to hold a current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate. Aviation medical examiners (AME’s) are designated by the FAA to issue these certificates, following completion of an application and a physical examination. While we have AME’s at UND, they can be found in most U.S. cities and in major cities abroad. For names and addresses of AME’s go to this website: http://ame.cami.jccbi.gov
There are several reasons for which you could be denied a medical certificate even if you feel you are in good health. These reasons have to do with medical and/or legal problems you have had, and should be evaluated before beginning your education for an aviation-related career. Prior medical issues and the current or prior use of certain prescription medications can be either disqualifying, or may require further inquiry by the FAA. Legal problems (arrests and/or convictions) can also create problems, particularly if they relate to alcohol or drug violations. If any of these problems need to be processed to obtain your certificate, delays are common. Therefore, we advise you to obtain a FAA medical certificate several months before coming to UND. You are required to possess a medical certificate to enroll in the flight laboratories, so get your medical certificate early to avoid delays.
A common limitation is a color vision restriction which restricts pilots from flying at night or under a signal gun control. Air traffic controllers may not be cleared medically with any color vision problems. These problems need to be identified to determine if you are eligible for these career fields.
Depression and Attention Deficit Disorder diagnoses are also common, and even if the problems have resolved, the FAA will need to review your medical history. Copies of medical records and evaluations are important for the medical certificate review. We recommend that you obtain copies of all of your records and keep them in a file, in case they need to be reviewed.
There are three classes of medical certificates, aptly named first, second, and third class. First class certificates are required for pilots exercising privileges of an airline transport pilot certificate. Second class medical certificates are needed for performing other commercial operations, and third class medical certificates are adequate for private pilot privileges. Since professional pilots will need a minimum of a second class medical certificate, we recommend you obtain a second class medical certificate initially to begin your flight training. Although a third class certificate is adequate for flight training, the visual requirements are not as stringent as the first and second class certificates.
If you have significant medical and/or legal problems, you should have copies of medical and/or court records for your examiner. You should be aware that drug and alcohol arrests and/or convictions (yes, paying a fine is a conviction) and administrative actions are considered serious problems by government and the aerospace industry. Failing to report or disclose these matters can also have serious repercussions with the FAA. Medical and behavior standards of professional pilots and air traffic controllers are among the highest in our society. Mistakes, poor judgment, and other “indiscretions of youth” can have lasting consequences related to your career. Prevention (through responsible behavior) is the key.
While flying at UND, you will be part of our drug and alcohol misuse prevention program. As in the aerospace industry, our goal is to use education and deterrence to maintain a safe training environment. The program is similar to mandatory drug and alcohol testing conducted at air carriers and air traffic control centers. Our program reflects our commitment to the aviation industry’s demand for a “no tolerance” environment and our regard for safety standards. Also, if you receive a drug or alcohol violation, you may be suspended from flight training for several months. This can negatively impact your training costs as well as your efforts to graduate on time.
Drug and alcohol testing will be done for several reasons. Tests can be ordered as an initial screening, directed at an individual based on their behavior, speech, odor or other characteristics, or be done as a result of an accident or incident. All students participating in flight labs are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. Positive tests will not only impact your flight status, but can severely impact your eligibility for a medical certificate. A complete description of the drug and alcohol program at the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences is available for your review.
Recent changes in some state’s laws allow recreational use of marijuana as well as medical marijuana prescriptions. According to the FAA, marijuana use, even with a prescription is a violation of the medical certificate requirements. According to UND policy, any marijuana use is in violation of the Drug Policy.
Our goal is to educate aviation professionals regarding many aspects of their future careers in a demanding industry. Learning about acceptable behaviors is an important aspect of this process.
Planning is essential with any college endeavor – especially with an aviation major. If you have any questions regarding FAA medical certification, please contact your AME. If you have questions regarding legal matters, please consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about Federal Aviation Regulations.