Article 66, Section 8 (Medical Qualifications)
The parties agreed to a new provision in Article 66, Section 8 concerning appealing temporarily medically disqualified status to the Federal Air Surgeon for review.
The ability to appeal to the Federal Air Surgeon at the FAA Headquarters of a permanent medical disqualification as outlined in Article 66, Section 8 of the 2009 Collective Bargaining Agreement did not change from the Green Book provision in Article 66, Section 7.
What’s new, however, is that Article 66, Section 8 also affords the same appeal opportunity for controllers who are temporarily incapacitated for a period of ninety (90) days or longer to the Federal Air Surgeon for review.
The new provision was added to protect controllers who could virtually be left in limbo awaiting the decision by the Regional Flight Surgeon of their temporary medical disqualification status. The Agency’s inability to make prompt decisions concerning controllers’ medical clearance prevents bargaining unit employees from working air traffic control duties, which in turn prevents BUE from earning premium pays associated with control positions. The opportunity lost in earning premium pays negatively impacts the BUE, and this provision was negotiated to mitigate such harm.
Controllers can be temporarily medically disqualified for various reasons, lasting anywhere from one day to several months depending on the circumstances. But if employees find themselves in limbo without clear direction concerning their temporary medical disqualification status, NATCA advises employees to file an appeal to the Federal Air Surgeon for review pursuant to Article 66, Section 8. If any of the following applies for 90 days or more, NATCA advises to initiate the provisions outlined Section 8:
- If a controller is without a decision by the Regional Flight Surgeon concerning his/her medical clearance despite repeated attempts to get resolution;
- If a controller believes that his/her medical situation is resolved and can resume working air traffic control position, but the RFS is unresponsive to the employee’s request for a medical clearance; or
- If the Regional Flight Surgeon’s lack of attention to an employee’s case causes a delay in restoring the medical clearance.
If you are faced with any of these scenarios, contact your facility representative or your regional vice president for further guidance.