Beginning on 5 April the US FAA says it will consider a special issuance of a medical certificate for pilots taking medication for mild to moderate depression.

Currently those conditions now bar affected individuals from all flying duties.

The agency says that pilots taking one of four medications - Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa or Lexapro - would be allowed to fly if they have been satisfactorily treated for the condition for at least 12 months.

FAA also says it will not take civil enforcement action against pilots that take advantage of a six-month opportunity to share any previously non-disclosed diagnosis of depression or the use those specific anti-depressants.

"I'm encouraging pilots who are suffering from depression or using anti-depressants to report their medical condition to the FAA," says agency Administrator Randy Babbitt. "We need to change the culture and remove the stigma associated with depression. Pilots should be able to get the medical treatment they need so they can safely perform their duties."

The new policy is consistent with recommendations from the Aerospace Medical Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Air Line Pilots Association and ICAO, says FAA.

Currently the Civil Aviation Authority of Australia, Transport Canada and the US Army already allow some pilots using anti-depressant medications to fly, FAA adds.

Aviation medical examiners and psychiatrists trained under the human intervention and motivation study (HIMS) programme will help FAA evaluate and monitor pilots under the new policy.

The new policy is available for public comment until 3 May.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news