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I know that before you even begin training in flight school, you are required to get a physical examination from a doctor to determine if you are fit to fly. Online articles stressed the importance of being completely honest with the doctor about any existing conditions.

I was just recently diagnosed with ADD (or rather, I described my issues to my regular physician and simply started receiving medication to treat it) and this is something I would naturally disclose at the physical examination.

Does FAA disqualify someone from getting their pilot's license on the basis of ADD?

I take medication for this once a day and it resolves any issues I face from it.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a great question. I was denied a medical due to on-going use of Concerta for adult ADD. I don't know if I have been misdiagnosed or if the medication helps me perform better at work for some other reason but I do know that I have been a successful software engineer, business owner, and UAV pilot for years. I am not sure why the FAA feels that this issue is so binary as to merit blanket discrimination. $\endgroup$ – Matt Cashatt Mar 19 '16 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ Concerta is implicated in cardiac events $\endgroup$ – rbp Mar 25 '16 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ @rbp So are hamburgers. $\endgroup$ – forest Dec 21 '18 at 8:33
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I'm going to assume you're asking about US/FAA requirements - If not what's below may not be particularly helpful.

ADD is not a disqualifying condition, however if you have a formal diagnosis of ADD or ADHD you may need to undergo additional testing in order to receive a medical certificate. Also some of the medications used to treat ADD/ADHD may be disqualifying (I know that Adderall, Focalin, and Ritalin were all on the FAA's "No Fly" list - I'm not sure if they're still an absolute NO or if you can get approval for them).

AOPA has a pretty decent drug list that you can search to see if what you've been prescribed is permitted - it's a little easier to search/cross-reference than the official FAA "Do Not Issue/Do Not Fly" list and they do a good job keeping it up to date, and a brief article on ADD/ADHD & medical certification.
They also have a service to assist you with getting your medical (as part of Pilot Protection Services) which can be helpful.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question is regarding US/FAA requirements, thank you for pointing that out. I've added a clarification to the question. I haven't had a formal diagnosis, but I am taking one of the medications you list there. I tried accessing the AOPA site, but it looks like I need to be a member to view it. $\endgroup$ – YonkeyDonk64 Feb 17 '15 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ @raptortech97 That article is a few years old - the situation may be different now, but I think all the common ADD/ADHD meds are still on the banned list. This site has a medication reference that doesn't require a membership & everything it turns up for ADD/ADHD is disallowed. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Feb 17 '15 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ The FAA "Do Not Issue - Do Not Fly" list is located at: faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/…. ADD/ADHD drugs are included on the Do Not Issue list. $\endgroup$ – newmanth Feb 17 '15 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ @SkipMiller Do you have a reference for the permitted meds? Literally everything I've found (from both the FAA and the usual alphabet soup pilot groups) seems to indicate that if you're on any of the "standard" ADD/ADHD meds you're effectively grounded, but if there's an authoritative source saying otherwise I will happily update the answer to reference it. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Feb 23 '15 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ @voretaq7 I have decided not to answer your question. I am not a medical professional and the last thing I want is for some pilot to act on information from a non-professional source when the solution is in fact very complicated. I have posted the website of the individual who authored and sheparded this narrowly limited proposal through the FAA Medical hurdles. Anyone who needs to know the facts of this change and how it affects his/her specific situation is well advised to contact a specialist in difficult medical certifications. $\endgroup$ – Skip Miller Feb 24 '15 at 14:18
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You can get a Pilot certificate under the Light Sport Category. This does not require a medical, only a current Drivers license. I've never seen a doctor for flying and I've had my ticket for a few years. You will be limited to VFR flight and aircraft size restrictions.(small plane, two seats to name few restrictions) But there are lots of options for Light Sport Aircraft, and many more manufactures getting on board with new equipment. Your CFI will teach you almost everything a beguining private pilot learns, because you have to be able to operate in the same airspace system with the rest of the VFR world. The training time requirements are less than PP and many pilots are starting with Sport and then moving up.

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  • $\begingroup$ I know a lot of older pilots don't know much about Light Sport and there is a stigma regarding that new entry level Flight option. As I mentioned, the minimum flight time requirements are less and you can get Sport with a minimum of 20 hrs ( the average is going to be more like 30hrs) but it still gets a student in the air faster and cheaper than private. Here is a simple search to show the wide variety of aircraft. google.com/… $\endgroup$ – Doug Smith Mar 24 '15 at 19:04
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You wrote that it was only your normal medical doctor that wrote the prescription. I would go back to him and verify that he did not write an official diagnoses of ADD in your medical records. And if he did, I would ask him if he is willing to amend the record and call it "possible ADD". I am pretty sure he would not have written that you have a diagnosed ADD condition as it takes more than a conversation with a general practitioner to make such a diagnosis. Assuming there is no official diagnosis of ADD in your record, all you have to do is get off the medication, wait three days (instead of 90 as folks with an official diagnosis have to) and then take the three neurotests. You will not have to find a psychologist who is willing to "un-diagnose" you. See https://www.aopa.org/go-fly/medical-resources/health-conditions/mental-health/add-and-adhd for more details.

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Be forewarned: I hold a multi-engine instrument rating but can no longer fly due to the loss of my medical certification.

I attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University through an extension campus at Hillsboro Aero Academy. I completed all of my flight tests and exams in the minimum required time. I had the entire staff behind me when confronting the FAA on the matter of ADD.

Unfortunately, the FAA's requirements to get a waiver are quite strict (which includes taking the Wisconsin card sorting test before acquiring a medical certification). According to the three psychologists that I visited in trying to acquire a waiver, the tests are difficult to pass for even the most focused individuals.

My recommendation is to not say anything. I didn't at first and that's how I got so far. It was only when trying to get a class 1 medical certificate that I admitted to having once been diagnosed with ADD. I hadn't taken any medication in five years at that point and had no symptoms, but few psychologists will un-diagnose you due to the severe liability it could pose on them and others. I spent thousands of dollars trying to acquire a waiver and invoked the AOPA legal insurance that I had, but nothing helped.

The FAA's job is to deny you. Until these things are looked at more seriously by the FAA, I would suggest not saying anything.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi, and welcome to Aviation SE! You clearly have first-hand experience with this issue, and that's great. However, there are some issues with this answer. For one, it reads more as a rant and a personal story than an answer. It also seems to answer "what should I do" more than "can you become a pilot if you take ADD medication." Also, intentionally failing to disclose one's diagnosis during a medical is illegal, and we ask that people don't advocate breaking the law on here. You might want to look around to see the kind of answers we encourage here. I'm sure this can turn into a great answer! $\endgroup$ – raptortech97 Mar 5 '15 at 1:56
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome ADD pilot. I feel sorry for your situation and I understand why you write the way you do but I fully concur with @raptortech97. This is too much of a rant so I have to vote to delete the answer. Let this not discourage you to post another answer or improve this one, I am sure your experience is of great value to others. $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Mar 6 '15 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ I have to admit, this is a very honest answer, ADD pilot. Likewise, I don't condone lying to federal regulations officials or breaking the law, but I think the answer retains some value as a cautionary tale for pilots who might be facing similar circumstances. $\endgroup$ – YonkeyDonk64 Oct 13 '15 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ Suggesting that someone lie on their medical application (including omitting things they're required to disclose) is supremely bad advice - it is also a felony (18 U.S. Code § 1001). Pilots have been sent to jail for this. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Oct 14 '15 at 17:42
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I am in a very similar situation as you. If you have ADD, my initial advice is "good luck!" My process went as follows:

First, I had to go to my doctor and asked to be officially taken off of the medication. Next, I went through a 90 day waiting period. During that 90 day waiting period, I met with my AME. Your AME must be HIMS certified. He gave me my physical and all other aspects of my health checked out. Out of pocket cost for physical and using him as my case manager was \$600.

After the 90 days, I took my aviation neuro-psychological exam. This exam usually lasts 7-9 hours and insurance does not cover it. My out of pocket cost was \$2500. Within 24 hours of my neuro-psychological exam, I had to have a urine drug test done. This test must be done under direct observation; otherwise it is not valid. This only cost \$100.

About a week and a half later, I met with a psychiatrist. This was about a three hour meeting that cost me \$550 out of pocket. This test was to determine my personality, check for alcoholism, depression, etc.

Unfortunately, I was still not done after that. The way the neuro-psychological exam is set up is that if you don't do at least average on one section, then you need cognitive therapy. My scores were superior and high average on all but one section and I got the therapy recommendation. They gave me an IQ test in which I scored a 138. That's an exceptional IQ, but somehow I cannot pass this test.

Right now I'm waiting for my AME's recommendation and my the psychiatrist results. Pretty sure I'll need therapy. I've been in flight school since July and my CFI has been ready to let me solo for months now. The whole process is pretty screwed up. Looking back, I should have kept my mouth shut.

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    $\begingroup$ "Should have kept my mouth shut..." and committed a felony by not disclosing the known medical condition? Very, very, VERY bad plan, as the comments on the other post with similar advice make clear. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Dec 9 '15 at 17:54

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