Almost 5,000 US pilots probed for flying despite disqualifying conditions - report

Nearly 5,000 US pilots, all of whom are military veterans, reportedly falsified medical records to work as pilots while collecting benefits for disqualifying disabilities.

The A330-900neo plane (photo credit: AIRBUS)
The A330-900neo plane
(photo credit: AIRBUS)

Around 5,000 US military veteran pilots are being investigated for falsifying medical records to apply for work as a pilot while having health issues that would have made them unfit for flying, The Washington Post reported.

This was discovered over two years ago when Veterans Affairs investigators spotted inconsistencies in federal databases, with the pilots in question collecting benefits for mental health disorders and other conditions. However, the Federal Aviation Authority has kept much of the case under wraps, according to The Washington Post.

According to experts cited in the report, the issue highlights longstanding vulnerabilities in the FAA's system for screening pilots, as well as the issue of veterans maximizing the extent of their health issues to Veteran Affairs officials for disability payments.

Crisis in the US aviation field

Pilots allegedly falsifying medical records isn't the only scandal plaguing the FAA. 

According to a recent report in The New York Times, near misses between airplanes in US skies happen far more often than previously thought. In fact, they often happen every day and are almost always due in some part to human error.

 Illustrative image of an airplane. (credit: PXHERE)
Illustrative image of an airplane. (credit: PXHERE)

Only a fraction of near-misses, incidents that nearly became deadly aircraft collisions, were ever actually shared with the public. 

The reason for this, according to the report, is the sheer lack of proper air traffic controllers in the US, with only a select few air traffic control facilities being at full capacity.

The situation is so dire that controllers are working mandatory overtime hours six days a week, with the controllers union telling ABC News that the current situation is unsustainable.