Saturday, October 08, 2005

Implications of a Lost Medical

Pretend for a second that you lost your medical. It's clearly a temporary thing; you know that your condition is not permanently disqualifying. But you're definately riding the pine bench for a period of time.

Now, let's also pretend that you're offered the opportunity to go fly. Your buddy needs to get instrument current and so wants you to right seat as his safety pilot. You, of course, are totally itching to get back in an aircraft and slip the surly bonds.

Can you do it legally?

The IFR Pilot has reviewed everything that he can find on this, and has concluded that he may, in fact, act as safety pilot. What he cannot do under the circumstances is log any of that time as PIC time, as he normally would. The IFR Pilot may be able to log it as second-in-command time, though the reasons why that would be of any value are not clear. Simultaneously, the person who is doing the instrument practice must be PIC qualified.

If anyone disagrees with these conclusions, would you mind letting the IFR Pilot know? Citations to appropriate regulations or publications would certainly be appreciated.

Update: Thanks, John, for putting the kibosh on the IFR Pilot serving as safety pilot. Based on the info you provided, yet another Google search led me here. Pretty authoritative interpretation from the FAA. Guess the IFR Pilot will be returning to sitting on his duff. Maybe a glider rating would be in order. No medical required, right?


Jim Howard said...

A safety pilot is a required crewmember and therefore requires a medical.

The safety pilot can log SIC if he or she is not the PIC as defined in FAR 1.

See "Doc's Far Forum" for a Chief Counsel Opinion :

John said...

14 CFR 61.3(c)
Medical certificate. (1) Except as provided for in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, a person may not act as pilot in command or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember of an aircraft, under a certificate issued to that person under this part, unless that person has a current and appropriate medical certificate that has been issued under part 67 of this chapter, or other documentation acceptable to the Administrator, which is in that person's physical possession or readily accessible in the aircraft.

Paragraph (c)(2) exemptions have to do with sport pilots and student pilots seeking a certificate with a glider or balloon rating.

When you act as safety pilot you are a required crewmember.

My advice? Don't do it!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps IFR pilot oughta fly a bit in a sportplane. Brings
up an interesting question - can you fly an LSA with a
"drivers license medical", or are you totally
disqualified from flying at this point?

John said...

My understanding of the sport pilot requirements is that you can fly using your driver's license as your medical, provided you were never denied a medical certificate from the FAA. If IFR Pilot has been notified that his medical is in limbo, I'd say the sport pilot route is out, too, unless you fly with a sport flight instructor.

So why not fly with a CFI? If you do, you can log the time as PIC. AOPA explains it this way - you're not able to BE PIC without a medical, but you are qualified to act as PIC even if your medical is not valid if you hold a certificate for the category and class of aircraft. Regardless of how you log the time, a flight with a CFI would be legal because the CFI would be the pilot in command.

Of course, there's the additional cost ...

IFR Pilot said...

John is, once again, right. Sport Pilot offers no reprieve for the IFR Pilot because of the actual knowledge of a medical condition. The CFI route is available, and fortunately the cost is fairly modest at the home base. About $20 an hour. So the IFR Pilot will certainly be going that route at some point, if for no purpose other than to make sure that the IFR currency doesn't lapse for too long!

Anonymous said...

Has the FAA denied the medical, though - that seems to
be the critical point around which the issue revolves. There
has been some discussion about whether one has to self
certify to (1) in 61.53 or has a
listed condition in 67.111. A bleeding ulcer would
generate a deferral to OKC, would it not, who would
then issue a finding? I'd give AOPA a call, and
ask them. Of course, if you don't have access to
a Sportplane, this is a moot point. The sport pilot
medical is a really strange "don't ask don't tell"