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After hernia surgery, what do I need to do to be cleared to exercise the privileges of my PPL?

I recently had hernia surgery in the past few weeks and just had my follow-up appointment with my surgeon yesterday. A week or so ago, I called the FAA Medical Hotline to self-report on my condition and was told that I was grounded until I received a doctor's notice clearing me for normal activity.

The research I've done shows that I need to submit a doctor's letter and an operative report to the FAA to be considered medically eligible again. My doctor's notice from my recent appointment says that I am cleared to return to normal activity on 1/31/20. Is this sufficient for the FAA to clear my grounded status?

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    $\begingroup$ As a general rule, your AME is much better placed to advise you on this than random internet people. $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Jan 8 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ +1 on Jamiec's comment. Beyond that, in the last paragraph you say you have done the research. I doubt many would refute you, so why don't you just send your doctor's note to the FAA and be done with it? If you really want an answer before sending it, call the same FAA hotline and ask to speak with the guy who grounded you. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Jan 9 at 1:39
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall I think the poster misunderstood the person on the hotline. The FAA didn’t ground him; they can’t do that without some kind of formal action. What the FAA told him is that pursuant to the FARs he was supposed to self-ground until he was cleared by his doctor. i.e. had no “medical condition that would make you unable to meed the requirements of the medical certificate.” $\endgroup$ – JScarry Jan 9 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JScarry, I agree, I was mainly suggesting that he close the loop with the folks he spoke with just in case they made any comments in his record regarding the expectation of a note clearing him again. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Jan 9 at 16:15
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What makes you think you need to inform the FAA of your status? I know of no rule that requires notifying the FAA until you go for your next medical. The FAA has a list of disqualifying medical conditions, and hernias aren’t among them. They do recommend that you not fly for 5-times the maximal hour dose interval after taking certain medications, but presumably you are off the pain meds by now.

If your doctor clears you for normal activity (including driving) then you would have no reason to know of any medical condition that would make you unable to meed the requirements of the medical certificate.

14 CFR §61.53 Prohibition on operations during medical deficiency.

(a) Operations that require a medical certificate. Except as provided for in paragraph (b) of this section, no person who holds a medical certificate issued under part 67 of this chapter may act as pilot in command, or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember, while that person:

(1) Knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make the person unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation; or

(2) Is taking medication or receiving other treatment for a medical condition that results in the person being unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation.

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So the FAA says explicitly you're grounded until YOU are cleared by a doctor's notice. They didn't (unless you forgot to mention that) that you need to notify them of such a notice.

So unless the information you provide is incomplete you are cleared to fly again starting February 2020.

To make sure you ticked all the boxes I would at least until your next medical keep that doctor's notice (and get it in writing if you didn't) with your medical and license just in case. Calling that medical hotline and telling them you have said notice may also be a good idea, in case they marked something in your files and they can then mark your recovery. But from what you told us that's probably not required.

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