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Straight From the Source

FAA Safety Briefing
Cleared for Takeoff
4 min readDec 30, 2021
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By Susan K. Parson, FAA Safety Briefing Magazine

Have you ever wished you could get an idea of what is going on with your medical, straight from the source? Well, you can. Dr. Susan Northrup, the Federal Air Surgeon, has made open communication with aviators a primary goal.

One action was creating the online Pilot Minute series. The “Pilot Minutes” are specifically written and executed by the Airmen Education team and FAA physicians who are also pilots. They understand both medical issues and the pilot’s concerns. The Federal Air Surgeon hosted the first two, and more are planned. You can find the video playlist here:

The FAA Aerospace Medicine office has produced a similar video series since 2017 called the “AME Minute.” As the name implies, these are aimed at aviation medical examiners (AMEs). AME Minutes are produced monthly and cover topics from medical policy (Why do different anticoagulants have different wait times?) to practical applications (Why should AMEs review visits to health professionals?). Though targeted to AMEs, these videos can also be helpful to pilots. To find the videos, go to and click the Training tab. You can also view the archive of all AME Minute videos at

AME Guide

The go-to resource for AMEs is the AME Guide: While intended for the AME, there is a lot of information useful to airmen. As discussed in the “Smooth is Fast” article in this issue, knowing how to navigate the AME Guide can help you pre-flight your visit with your AME.

Go to the AME Guide webpage and look at the following resources:

  • General information is equivalent to a frequently asked questions section.
  • Applicant History provides information on what the AME will ask and help you determine what information/reports that you need to provide, if any.
  • The Decision Considerations section contains both Aerospace Medical Dispositions and Disease Protocols. These sections provide the AME with specific guidance on when they can issue and when they should defer issuance. These sections also have information on what evaluation is required. If you have any of these conditions, pay specific attention to what items will be required for medical certification.
  • Finally, the Synopsis of Standards section is a short list of the requirements, such as vision, for different classes of medical certification, as well as the 15 specifically (by regulation) disqualifying conditions.

A quick review of these sections will let you know what to expect during your AME visit. It should save you time and give you the best chance of walking out of the AME’s office with your medical certificate in hand.

Finally, regular readers of FAA Safety Briefing know that there are typically one or two medically-related articles in each issue. Many of these articles are written by FAA physicians who are also pilots, including the Federal Air Surgeon. You’ll find current magazine issues online and prior issues back to 2008 online at

If you want the latest in medical changes from the FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine, use any of the above items and get your information, straight from the source.

Susan K. Parson ( is editor of FAA Safety Briefing and a Special Assistant in the FAA’s Flight Standards Service. She is a general aviation pilot and flight instructor.
This article was originally published in the January/February 2022 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.
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FAA Safety Briefing
Cleared for Takeoff

Official FAA safety policy voice for general aviation. The magazine is part of the national FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam).