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FAA Changes Guidelines for Pilots with Prior ADHD Diagnosis

By Abigail Minch

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

NW Wings Aviation 

Aspiring pilots previously diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will now find it easier to pass their medical examinations with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines released in August, 2023.

Previously, those diagnosed with ADHD at any point in their life would need to undergo several medical tests to assure that they would be fit to operate an aircraft. 

Now, Aviation Medical Examiners (AME) can pass those who have not taken ADHD medication in the last four years and those who have been symptom free in the last four years. They will also require proof that the aspiring pilot had no previous instability in academic, social, or occupational roles in the past four years as well. This is also under the assumption that there are no other present medical conditions. 

Austin Hall is a student pilot who went through the FAA ADHD evaluation before the recent changes. 

Hall was diagnosed with the condition as a child and as an adult has experienced no symptoms that he carried that diagnosis into his adulthood. 

“I don't think it affects me today,” Hall said. “I'm not sure about when it was diagnosed or if it was something that I just grew out of, but I don't think it's a major effect on me at all today. Today, the new guidelines would mean that Hall would not go through the assessment.

Hall reports that from the point of seeing a medical examiner to having his medical in his hand took about a year due to the old restrictions.

“I feel like, if I didn't have to do this medical stuff, I would have my private pilot license in my hand right now,” Hall said.

Hall says that the new regulations are a step in the right direction for those who are no longer needing the extra testing and are not experiencing symptoms. 

“I wish that I had waited a year. But I think it's great,” Hall said. “I was frustrated the whole time that I had to do it when it was such an old diagnosis. So I'm happy that they've updated those rules a little bit. I think it's good. It’s a good step in the right direction for that, in my opinion.”

In the future, Hall is looking forward to taking family and friends on flights. He also has plans of getting his commercial license and his ATP. 

“Flying is like this great freedom and this cool experience that not everybody gets to have. It seemed like something that I would be good at. And I think that's all proving correct so far,” Hall said.

NW Wings Aviation is happy to see the changes made to old regulations regarding ADHD and the continuation of checking other outdated regulations. We are looking forward to seeing the future progress that will be made to make it easier to join the aviation workforce while simultaneously keeping flights safe. 

NW Wings Aviation would like to make it clear that this is not a substitute for an AME evaluation. 

Thank you to Austin Hall for sharing his story and for flying with us!

To starting training with NW Wings Aviation email or call 503-906-0945

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