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6 Answers

BFR while taking pain medication?

Asked by: 3611 views ,
FAA Regulations, Flight Instructor, General Aviation, Private Pilot

I have not beenable to fly for past 6 months while taking pain medication awaiting upcoming surgery.  My medical is current for another year,but I am due for my BFR at the end of this month.  I really miss flying and wanted to know if it is legal for me to fly a few days a month with a CFII to maintain some level of flying skills.  Also can I complete my BFR while still taking the pain medications. I would also assume that I could not count any of these flight hours as PIC, but my main concern is to at least maintain my flying skills legally and safely.  Would it also be allowed to combine the BFR with an IPC under the same circumstances.  Once the surgery is finished next month, it will probably be another 2 months of pain management until I can fly again.  There are no decent flight simulators in the area, so this would be the best option to at least maintain some level of currency rather than waiting for 3 or 4 months to start all over again.  Thanks for any guidance you could offer. I just want to be sure to be safe and legal for both myself and the CFII that Iwould ask to help.

6 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Nathan Parker on Apr 07, 2012

    “an I complete my BFR while still taking the pain medications.”
    I wouldn’t think so.  You can’t, of course, act as PIC, but there is another regulation,  91.17, which says in part:
    (a) No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft—
    (3) While using any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety; or
    The question is, while you are receiving instruction, are you a crewmember?  Part 1 defines a crewmember as
    Crewmember means a person assigned to perform duty in an aircraft during flight time.
    Even if it were ambiguous as to whether a student would meet that definition, past FAA Letters of Interpretation have interpreted the student as being a crewmember, so I would think that paragraph (3) above would apply in this situation.

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  2. Jim Foley on Apr 07, 2012

    It really all depends on what medication you are taking.  Looking at the approved medication list under pain meds:
    “Pain Control – The following medications are usually FAA approved provided there are no side effects and the condition being treated does not preclude safe performance of flight duties:


    It seems to me that if what you are taking is approved, it doesn’t matter if you are doing a BFR or just general crewmember duties.

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  3. Jim Foley on Apr 07, 2012

    If I were you I’d call your regional flight surgeon‘s office or the Drug and Alchohol Department (same link) and see what options you have.  One option they might suggest is getting a SODA (Statement of Demonstrated Ability).  I’m not sure what all is involved in doing so, but it would allow you to continue using the medication that works for you, with minor to no restrictions.  If you’re just wanting to fly to remain current, any restrictions shouldn’t impede you too much.

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  4. Kris Kortokrax on Apr 08, 2012

    SODA’s are issued to provide relief for people who have are deaf or have sight problems (color blind, blind in one eye) and issues with limbs (paraplegic, missing limb, etc).
    They are NOT issued to show that a person can function while taking medication.  If a medication is not approved for use by the medical division, you may not get a SODA to allow you to fly while consuming it.

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  5. Jim Foley on Apr 09, 2012

    Kris, do you have a citation showing that the FAA will never issue a SODA for medication?  I ask because I have talked to Dan Berry (Central Region flight surgeon) on several occasions, and he said regardless of what disqualifying condition somebody has, he suggest everybody call their regional office to disscuss the options.  I only assume those “options” would be doing a checkride and issuing a SODA.  Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to call.

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  6. Kris Kortokrax on Apr 09, 2012

    Enter “medical” in the search box.  Read the section concerning medical flight tests.
    The SODA is not an option for medications.

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