HR Strange But True!
July 21, 2005

It seems that 40 pilots in California--including some who flew commercial airliners--weren't about to let little things like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, drug and alcohol addiction, disabling back pain, and severe heart conditions keep them on the ground.

Grand juries across the state have indicted the pilots for fraud, according to a joint statement from several federal agencies. The pilots lied either to the Federal Aviation Administration, in failing to report health conditions that would have disqualified them from flying, or to the Social Security Administration, by filing for disability payments.

Either way, it's fraud, authorities said.

The wrongdoing was uncovered during "Operation Safe Pilot," an 18-month probe of 40,000 licensed pilots in California by the FAA, the SSA, and the U.S. Attorney's offices for the northern and eastern districts of California.

The agencies said "a number" of airline transport pilots were among those indicted, but they did not provide details.

The FAA already has revoked the licenses and medical certificates of 14 of the pilots, and those of the remaining 26 may be suspended, authorities said, adding that they discovered some of the pilots additionally failed to report previous criminal convictions to the FAA.

Source: U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California

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