Hundreds of US Airline Pilots Suspected of Being Unfit to Fly
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - About 600 US pilots licensed to operate passenger flights are under investigation for lying about their medical records, US press reported Sunday, citing officials and internal records.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been looking into 4,800 former military veterans turned airline and commercial pilots who might have submitted "incorrect or false information" as part of their medical applications, FAA spokesman Matthew Lehner admitted in a comment to the daily.
The pilots were red-flagged after investigators at the Department of Veterans Affairs cross-checked federal databases to discover aviators who were receiving veteran benefits for mental health disorders and other serious conditions, while hiding their true medical history from the FAA in order to continue flying.
While the FAA relies on screening to identify safety risks, the tests are often cursory and pilots are expected to self-report conditions that can otherwise be difficult to detect, such as depression or post-traumatic stress, The Washington Post cited physicians who conduct the exams as saying.
Officials told the newspaper they suspected many of the pilots under investigation of being either too sick to fly or defrauding taxpayers by exaggerating their disabilities to claim bigger benefits. The FAA disbursed $3.6 million starting last year to run additional tests on thousands of pilots deemed "potential risks."
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