The National Flight Training Alliance (NFTA), an organization which has served since December 2023 on the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee on Pilot Mental Health Rulemaking Committee (ARC), fully supports the ARC report recommendations provided to the FAA and announced by the agency on April 1, 2024. The committee was chartered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on December 4, 2023, and was formed to break down barriers that prevent pilots from reporting mental health issues to the agency,

The summary of the ARC recommendations are to:

• Create a non-punitive pathway for disclosing mental health conditions and treatments;

• Revise and evaluate the requirements for reporting and certification/qualification of psychotherapy (talk therapy), depression/anxiety; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder;

• Ensure that aeromedical screening protocols and requirements are based on Safety Management System principles (i.e., proportionate, relevant, and risk-based), and appropriately communicated to applicants;

• Expand the use and promotion of Peer Support Programs;

• Develop mental health literacy, education, and awareness campaigns;

• Increase mental health training and improve quality assurance for Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs);

• Modernize the FAA's information management system/Aviation Medical Certification Subsystem.

“The flight training industry is the gateway to the aviation industry, and the first place where a culture change can truly take place among the future generation of aspiring pilots and air traffic controllers,” Captain Lee Collins, CEO of NFTA and an ARC committee member, said. “For far too long, earlier generations of pilots were fearful of reporting any kind of physical or mental health challenge for fear of job loss and related stigma. With these recommended changes, a culture shift supporting overall physical and mental health is a realistic and attainable goal. NFTA and our member organizations possess the collective knowledge, information and educational opportunities to impart positive change within the aviation community at the training level and are committed to doing so in cooperation with other aviation stakeholders and the FAA.”

Collins said that NFTA will continue to monitor the status of these recommendations as the FAA reviews for next steps.

The ARC believes that this change must include risk-based processes and pathways to allow for the non-prejudicial reporting, treatment, and safe return to operation for both pilots/controllers experiencing or diagnosed with mental health conditions. Improvements should also include greater accessibility to mental health education, treatment, and resources. The ARC expects that breaking down barriers for pilots/controllers to acknowledge, seek care/treatment, and report mental health concerns, will lead to increased reporting and certifications/clearances for healthy pilots/controllers to remain or return to the workforce. Breaking down these barriers will then reduce the risk that an untreated pilot/controller enters or remains in the workforce without needed mental health care.

The full report can be viewed here.

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