Pilots and Epilepsy
Federal regulations, in effect, bar anyone with a history of epilepsy, who have been diagnosed with epilepsy or who have experienced a "disturbance of consciousness without a satisfactory medical explanation of the cause," from obtaining any type of pilot's license.
Under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, in order to obtain a pilot's license for commercial, private or transport purposes, the applicant must obtain a medical certificate from an FAA-approved physician. In order to obtain such a certificate, however, an individual cannot have any established medical history or diagnosis of epilepsy or disturbance of consciousness (Title 14 of the Code the Federal Regulations, Part 67 entitled, "Medical Standards and Certification").
However, the Office of Federal Air Surgeon does make exceptions to these regulations upon appeal in limited cases. Although medical personnel review cases on an individual basis, they generally grant exemptions to Part 67 for applicants who have been seizure-free without medication for 10 or more years.
To our knowledge, there are no federal laws restricting people with epilepsy from obtaining employment in other airline positions, such as flight attendant, baggage handler and maintenance crew. Federal and state civil rights laws may protect your right to work in these professions. Private airlines must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The FAA and other federal agencies that employ these positions must comply with Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
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