Why is BiPolar disqualifying?

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by Unregistered, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Seriously why is it disqualifying? I am very stable on my medications and am very successful professionaly. Why can't I hold at least a 3rd class medical?
     
  2. BillTIZ

    BillTIZ Final Approach

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    I realize each individual is different. Historically most bipolar individuals will miss or stop taking their medication because the "feel fine". And then not have a good day.

    FAA cannot be assured that you will always take the medications.
     
  3. Jimmy cooper

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    Isn't this what happened to the pilot who crashed the Lufthansa jet Liner? Very depressed, anxious and told by a doctor not to fly?
     
  4. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bingo! :yes:

    First time Jimmy has been right about anything! ;)
     
  5. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Look at the potential side effects for those meds (that are NOT on the FAA approved list for a reason) you are taking. You'll find your answer there. Flying is NOT for everyone.
     
  6. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Pretty sure BillTIZ has it. I've seen the difference between treated and untreated bipolar disorder. It isn't a pretty sight. And missing a dose of meds is a big deal. FAA doesn't like approving anyone with that tight a margin of error.
     
  7. Jimmy cooper

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    Not too long ago the correct term was manic depressive. Name probably changed by pc people. It's very serious business.
     
  8. Jimmy cooper

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    Not to mention my insight on the pitiful eight years of little bush. But then I read rather than watched faux news.
     
  9. pilot1956

    pilot1956 Pre-Flight

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    Seriously, because the FAA uses a one-size-fits-all approach to nearly all mental health issues. You can be a surgeon with well-controlled bipolar disease with no demonstrable impairment for ten years. But you can't fly a 150.
     
  10. RJM62

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    From the horse's mouth, as it were...

    https://www.faa.gov/about/office_or...de/app_process/exam_tech/item47/amd/table/bd/

    My ex sister-in-law suffered from bipolar disorder. When she was on her meds, she was a sweetheart. But like many people with the condition, she had an uncanny knack for fooling herself into believing that she was "cured" from time to time and would stop taking the medications. Things could get very scary, very suddenly when that happened. And I'm not a person who scares easily.

    Unfortunately, and with no offense meant to the OP, this tendency is fairly common among people with bipolar disorder; and although OP may be the exception, it would be a really hard thing to convince the FAA of that. And even if it were possible, most if not all of the medications used to treat bipolar disorder are themselves grounding.

    I don't know if an SI for bipolar disorder is even possible. I frankly doubt it, but I'm not any sort of expert. Dr. Bruce would know. But I wouldn't get my hopes up. :(

    Rich
     
  11. Jimmy cooper

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    Or you can Be a doctor ( who I knew) who not only was very depressed but also an alcoholic who had to be removed from the operating room forcefully after insisting that he wanted to operate. Many doctors and nurses have issues that are covered up and are a threat to patients. It's called " professional courtesy".
     
  12. pilot1956

    pilot1956 Pre-Flight

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    Making policy by anecdote is bad policy. Just because somebody knows someone who was impaired by an illness doesn't mean all persons with that illness are equally impaired. This logic would lead us to conclude that the Class 3 medical should be denied to all persons over the age of 60 because somebody knew a 60 year old person who had a sudden heart attack. The more rational approach is to assess each person for impact of his/her condition on performance.
     
  13. Jimmy cooper

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    Of course " all people " cannot be judged by one or two. But the military and the airlines are much more realistic about say mental illness or heart trouble. I personally think the third class requirements are too liberal, especially with people who have had serious heart problems, etc. The airways have enough problems without people in poor or questionable health.
     
  14. pilot1956

    pilot1956 Pre-Flight

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    Jim, do you have any data to support your claim that the third class requirements are "too liberal"?

    BTW, nobody is talking about the military and the airlines. We're talking about 3rd class medicals.
     
  15. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The FAA is paranoid about any sort of "mental" issue.
     
  16. JHW

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    Makes perfect sense to me. You can also be a surgeon and not be able to keep a driver's license (I'm related to one of those). What does cutting people open and sewing them back up have to do with driving a vehicle, air or ground ?
     
  17. flyingron

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    Because the FAA doesn't trust patients with psychiatric disorders to appraise themselves and self-ground. Nobody gets up in arms if a bipolar person wrecks his car, but let them crash a plane with passengers or into something on the ground, and it's an uproar.

    Actually, if your drugs are limited to one of the SSRIs approved on the special issuance protocol you might have a shot at certification. You should ask Dr. Bruce. He was one of the authors of the SSRI SI protocol. (aeromedicaldoc.com or ask on the red boards Medical Group).
     
  18. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Seems to me that Bruce has said that applies only if the diagnosis is simple unipolar depression. Unless I've misremembered, bipolar is one of those "when hell freezes over" things.
     
  19. flyingron

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    I don't know whether bipolar is approvable, but the SI reads single or multiple depressive episodes.
     
  20. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Are you suggesting FAA medical makes policy by anecdote? They have a policy that says it's better to ground a few good pilots than have bad ones flying. That's not anecdotal, it's just probability.
     
  21. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    No, of course he doesn't. He is expressing an opinion. He qualified it as his opinion. He is entitled to have an opinion.
     
  22. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Multiple depressive != bipolar. Pretty sure it's a different diagnosis. A friend of mine, recently passed, had a son who was bipolar. Believe me, you would NOT want him for a pilot. :no:
     
  23. pilot1956

    pilot1956 Pre-Flight

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    Brian, no, I was suggesting that some posters were using single examples to justify policy that applies to everyone.

    Regarding opinions, yes, I recognize that it was his opinion. I did not ask him to stop having opinions. However, I would also expect his opinion to be that the FAA should not ground pilots who are not actually impaired. These two "opinions" might lead to opposite actions and that is my point.
     
  24. RJM62

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    No one on this board, to my knowledge, is in the position to make policies for the FAA. We used to have a guy who sort of helped with that, but he hasn't been around for a while.

    The absence from this board of policymakers, however, is only half the reason why your previous comment:

    confused me a bit. The other half was because in the context of the OP's question:

    observations about the specifics of the disorder, whether based on personal experience or otherwise, are relevant.

    The simple and most accurate answer to OP's question is contained in the link I posted; but all that link really says is, "Because FAA sez so," which OP already knows. That's why the observations about the disorder and how FAA would likely view an SI request were relevant.

    By the way, I agree that it should be a more individual decision. In fact, I favor eliminating the third-class medical altogether in favor of a requirement that the airman simply see a doctor once a year for a non-reportable physical exam. The fact that he or she had had the exam would be sufficient. Nothing would need to be reported to FAA.

    So really, I get where you're coming from.

    But reality is what it is; and if I were the OP, I wouldn't get my hopes up about an SI for this particular problem. :(

    Rich
     
  25. SkyHog

    SkyHog Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The FAA needs to be more blunt about its decision making policies, so we can see how ridiculous their own judgment is. In this case, the policy should read:

    "BiPolar disorder could result in an increased possibility of a pilot committing suicide and intentionally crashing his plane in anger."

    Then, we can all sit back and say "Wow....I don't think that's necessarily true.."

    Just like they should say "You can't fly with Kidney Stones because the pain may be so severe that you lose control of the aircraft and crash it into a school."

    edit: They should also add "the diagnosis of such disorder increases the potential significantly over an undiagnosed person, regardless of the presence of such a disorder."
     
  26. SkyDog58

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    I wonder how many people saying that a bipolar person should not fly are also in favor of eliminating the third class medical. Wouldn't any person with a psychological disorder be able to fly if there is no medical? Yes, I realize that you self certify but seriously would someone with psych issues be all that good at doing so?
     
  27. SbestCFII

    SbestCFII Line Up and Wait

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    Sometimes, it's not necessarily the condition, but the medications use for control, that can be the issue. The FAA prohibited medications includes many common medications used for mental/behavioral health problems due to sedation/ drowsiness or side effects. Even if the 3rd class was discontinued or "relaxed," the restriction on the medications wouldn't change.
     
  28. SkyDog58

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    Still, many people do not refer to the FAA list of restricted medications when they get a new prescription. As long as they still have a medical, they think they are good to go. Eliminate the medical and you lose this safety net.
     
  29. gitmo234

    gitmo234 Line Up and Wait

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    I'm not a fan of regulating to the .05th percentile of possibility, but bipoloar would be one I'd be skeptical about. A younger brother of mine is bipolar and last time he was fine and decided to stop taking his meds he was arrested after running across a 4 lane highway because he saw a female police officer shooting radar and he tried to tackle her to steal her weapon because it would cool be to prove he could do it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
  30. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Many of us who oppose the 3rd class medical favor replacing it with essentially the sport pilot certification rule that only requires the pilot to discuss whether he is safe to fly with his physician. This is essentially what would happen under PBOR2. You do realize that a bipolar person can legally fly today under sport pilot rules if a physician says yea? I don't see a significant difference between LSA aircraft/ops and the aircraft/ops that today require a 3rd class, that under PBOR2 would require only a physician's ok. Personally I don't think most bipolar people should be flying LSA and I would HOPE that a conscientious physician would advise such a person not to fly, with unusual exceptions involving mild cases or patients stable for many years. But they can do it today, without fear of a ramp check, as long as they're flying a LSA, even without a physician's approval, even though it's not strictly legal for them to do so. I don't see the same scenario under PBOR2 as being significantly worse. So I don't see any contradiction there.
     
  31. txflyer

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    Good luck getting any doctor to take the liability and approve anyone on psych-meds to fly.

    This is a pasttime where your first mishap or mis-med can be your last.
     
  32. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

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    Unlike driving a car where you are more likely to take random people with you. An issue that Doctors seem to deal with on a regular basis.
     
  33. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    There are a lot of people who shouldn't fly, including many pilots who do have medicals but who conceal illnesses to keep them.

    I frankly don't have so much faith in a scrap of government-issued paper that I attribute magical powers to it. Pilots who are technically unfit to fly do so every day. Eliminating the third-class medical could very well improve aviation safety by encouraging these folks to get treatment rather than hide their illnesses.

    I think my idea is best: Simply require the airman to have undergone a non-reportable physical exam within the past year. The receipt for the exam would be the medical. That assures that someone whose health may be less-than-perfect at least talks to a doctor once a year, but it still keeps FAA ignorant of the details of the individual's health status (which is what FAA wants, by the way).

    Another thing you have to consider is that learning to fly is not something that most mentally ill people will be able to successfully achieve unless their illnesses are well-controlled. The process is sufficiently long and frustrating to allow for manifestations; the candidate has to convince the flight school, CFIs, and a DPE of their fitness; an FBO has to be comfortable renting them an airplane; and a CFI needs to sign off their BFRs every two years.

    What I'm saying is that there are safeguards in place that are at least as effective as the medical. Are they perfect? No, but nothing is. Still, people with mental illness becoming pilots is not something I lose any sleep worrying about. As far as I'm concerned, if they can complete the process and get their tickets, that in itself says a great deal about how effectively they're managing their conditions.

    Rich
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015
  34. RotorDude

    RotorDude Pattern Altitude

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    I think that Germanwings guy is the elephant in the room when it comes to medicals. I can't see Congress, with that recent event in mind, deciding to let people fly without formal medical scrutiny. I suspect some of them would repeal the Sport and Light arrangement if they could.
     
  35. pilot1956

    pilot1956 Pre-Flight

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    My comment "Making policy by anecdote is bad policy" was in response to other posters who were justifying current FAA policy on the basis of their knowledge of one person with bipolar disorder and one drunk surgeon.

    I was suggesting that either supporting or criticizing existing policy on the basis of such limited experience (i.e., on anecdote) was likely to result in poor policy. Sorry if unclear.
     
  36. txflyer

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    Cars are much different imo. You're not dealing with such velocity, gravity, spatial disorientation, and decisions that must be made pronto and executed.

    And cars are much more crash-worthy. You can bump something pretty hard in a car and everyone's usually o.k. but not in an airplane.
     
  37. DJTorrente

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    https://youtu.be/oynJcSnLSI4

    Were this the SZ I would have included YT tags on the video.
     
  38. Doggtyred

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    Theres no mechanism to weed out folks out of the profession of medicine with mental health disorders. There's no exam, or screening test, or banned medication list.
     
  39. Doggtyred

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    Repeat after me. "Life isn't fair". End of discussion. Go fly sport pilot. And wait until the 3rd class for PPL goes away.
     
  40. gitmo234

    gitmo234 Line Up and Wait

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    The FAA cant customize regulation for every single scenario. I support doing away with the third class medical, but until then, they have to regulate for the bulk 99.9% of people. If they wanted to write regulations to account for every exception and potential circumstance they'd REALLY never get anything done.