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June 11, 2014

I was just made aware of the endorsement by the AMA in support of defeating the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, currently in consideration by Congress.

I am embarrassed and appalled by the position the AMA is taking.  Their position is not supported by the medical literature and appears to be self-serving.

I was also dismayed to receive a directive from the Civil Aviation Medical Association (CAMA), an organization whose mission is to: 1. promote the best methodology for assessment of the mental and physical requirements for civil aviation pilots; 2.to actively enlarge our scientific knowledge; 3. to advocate, through continuing education, both basic and advanced civil aeromedical knowledge; 4. to promote professional fellowship among our colleagues from allied scientific disciplines; 5. to bind together all civil aviation medical examiners into an effective, active medical body to promote aviation safety for the good of the public.

CAMA recently asked me to sign and send a letter to my Congressmen to encourage them to vote against the bills being considered by Congress.  This document delineated, amongst other things, that "Complete elimination of medical oversight for these pilots would constitute a clear and present danger to aviation safety."   I contacted CAMA to ask them to defend their position, and was met with anecdotal examples that would support their position.  When asked for more substantive data, they were unable to provide such information.

I am comforted with the knowledge that the vast majority of physicians do not belong to the AMA, and there are a substantial number of AME’s who are not members of CAMA.  Why?  For me, I have never felt that the AMA, and recently the CAMA, accurately reflected the opinions of the majority of physicians.

In looking at the position of CAMA I am struck by the self-serving nature of their position.  Should the legislation pass, the AME’s would see a significant decrease in the their practices, and would need to go back to providing care for the sick, rather than the “wellness examinations” that they enjoy in taking care of pilots like you and me (and most pilots) who are in good health and wish to keep our medical certification.

It has not escaped my attention that one of the CAMA officers is none other than AOPA’s Warren Silberman, DO.  We fail to see how a person who is an officer in CAMA, which strongly and actively opposes the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, can be an effective leader in supporting the AOPA’s position in support of the legislation.

These developments are quite frustrating to me, personally, in light of the fact that we, as physicians, are trained to interpret scientific information and to make decisions based upon credible medical information.  Both CAMA, and now the AMA, have clearly failed to do so.

Randle S. Corfman, PhD, MD, AME

President, Minnesota Pilots Association


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