Responding to New Challenges in Aviation Medicine

Editorial, by Jon L. Jordan, MD, JD

The challenges of 1993 became opportunities for the Office of Aviation Medicine to promote aviation safety through medical knowledge. We expanded our customer service, both quantitatively and qualitatively, within the FAA and in the aviation industry. We continued to implement our 1992 strategic plan, which defines five strategic issue areas:

  • Identifying customer needs
  • Customer satisfaction
  • The aviation work environment
  • Human performance
  • International leadership
We are striving to address these issues in each major program area¬óairman medical certification, the aviation medical examiner program, aeromedical education, occupational health, and substance abuse programs. Those national medical programs are managed by the nine regional medical divisions, the program offices at the Civil Aeromedical Institute, and the Washington headquarters staff.

Our strategic and operational plans are validated by providing a rational basis to address the Administration’s downsizing and streamlining initiatives, while minimizing any adverse impact on our customers, including the flying public. Although we are a relatively small office in the FAA, we believe we can maintain program integrity in all areas and still meet the streamlining objectives.

The airman medical certification national program achieved its objective of processing applications within 20 workdays with a monthly processing inventory of cases not to exceed 12,000. Currently, processing averages 10 workdays, and applications in the system number about 7,500.

I am especially pleased with the positive response our aviation medical examiners have given to administrative changes in the AME system. These changes were designed to improve the quality of the examination and the accuracy of reporting examination data. As a result, we have improved our service to the airman population.

As I reported in the Fall Bulletin, Congress has, for the time being, dropped its proposal to charge AME "user" fees for designation. While this is good news for AMEs, I must also mention that Congress eliminated our appropriation for the conduct of AME seminars, with the understanding that we will charge attendees sufficiently to cover the costs involved. We are planning to implement this Congressional direction and will inform AMEs of any new requirements as soon as possible.