Real Answers from Real Pilots

Loss of Medical

Hey mentors, what happens if during a medical checkup a pilot loses his “wings”. What impact does this have for his/her family and income-wise? How does an airline handle this?

Angel,

Great question. Basically there are 2 questions in here, there’s temporary and permanent. Let’s say for instance you suffer from a bout of kidney stones. The FAA says you can’t fly until they’re gone. Hopefully they pass quickly and in that case you could use your sick bank, vacation time etc until you get back on your feet (which is one of the reasons I don’t treat my sick hours lightly). However if whatever ailment caused the suspension of your Medical is longer or even permanent that’s obviously a bigger concern. Many airlines provide Long Term Disability for their pilots but the definition of what’s a disability is questionable since you could be “able to work” but the FAA is still refusing to reissue your medical. It’s for that reason many companies (and the union) offer “Loss of License” insurance which I personally feel is a REALLY good idea. Now depending on how long you’ve been at the airline and how vested you are in your retirement you may be able to take an early medical retirement. Bottomline is like many things many airlines handle these things differently.

Adam