A New Equation for Calculating the Maximum Wait Time for Pilots Who Use an Impairing Medication

Medical standards to determine a pilot's fitness to fly are established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Aerospace Medicine (OAM). Pilots using an impairing medication are required to wait before returning to duty, but toxicology findings from fatal aviation crashes show that not all pilots wait a sufficient length of time. The OAM requested assistance in calculating a safe return-to-duty time for pilots using an impairing medication. The equation was developed at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) based on maximum and minimum therapeutic concentrations and the maximum expected half-life of the medication. This study assessed the new equation by collecting blood and plasma specimens at various time intervals from anonymous volunteer subjects taking diphenhydramine, an impairing over-the-counter medication and the one most commonly found in pilot fatalities. Toxicological analysis showed that the CAMI equation successfully predicted a safe return-to-duty time without requiring excessive wait times. The study compares established recommended times with the new estimated wait time for 18 medications.


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  • Accession Number: 01529265
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 5 2014 4:35PM