Monday, 5 April 2010

FAA Lifts Ban on Pilots on Antidepressants Operating Aircraft


For 70 years, American pilots have been banned from flying aircraft if they are on antidepressant medications. Unfortunately, the ban, it was found, only led to pilots keeping their psychological condition and antidepressant use under wraps, while continuing to fly.

They will not have to do that any longer. The Federal Aviation Administration this week lifted the ban on antidepressant use by pilots. According to the agency, there is research to show that newer medications come without the side effects that caused so much concern earlier, like drowsiness or fatigue. The agency consulted a medical panel of experts who determined that these new drugs don’t cause as many side effects, and even if side effects do occur, they subside over a period of time.

Besides, the ban on antidepressants, the agency found, was not very effective because it encouraged pilots to keep their condition a secret. The agency is hoping that by lifting the ban, pilots will be able to openly admit their use of antidepressant medications without fearing that they will lose their jobs.

The new policy will allow pilots who have taken any of these four antidepressants-Prozac, Zoloft LexaPro and Celexa - to be able to continue to fly as long as they have undergone successful treatment for at least a year without suffering any side effects. A panel of medical examiners and psychiatric experts will be in charge of monitoring the pilots

However, California plane crash lawyers have one problem with the lifting of this ban. It comes with pardon for those pilots who until now had lied about their anti-depressant use and continued to fly. California aviation accident lawyers are not alone in this criticism. Aviation safety experts and even former pilots say that allowing such amnesty to thousands of pilots who have been flying on antidepressant use without revealing it, only sends the message that the Federal Aviation Administration tolerates wrongdoing and even pardons it. It is tantamount to encouraging deceit and dishonesty, not two qualities that you want to see in a pilot in charge of your plane.

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