ADHD Fast Track Pathway

February 12, 2024
ADHD Fast Track Pathway

Prior to Sep 2023, if you had a history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and wanted to become a pilot in the United States, you were fighting an uphill battle that could take months and cost thousands of dollars. But in Aug last year, the FAA introduced a groundbreaking fast track program aimed at expediting medical certification for pilots with more distant ADHD backgrounds. Under the new Fast Track pathway pilots and pilot applicants can now avoid deferral to the FAA and possibly get their Class 1, 2, or 3 FAA medical certificate on day of exam directly from the AME.


Historically, individuals with ADHD faced significant barriers when pursuing careers as commercial pilots due to stringent medical regulations. ADHD, characterized by symptoms such as impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity, was often viewed as a disqualifying condition due to concerns about its potential impact on a pilot's ability to safely operate an aircraft.

However, advancements in understanding ADHD and its management have led to a reevaluation of these policies. Research indicates that with proper diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring, individuals with ADHD can effectively manage their symptoms and perform tasks requiring sustained attention and focus, including piloting aircraft. Additionally, the FAA recognized that many of these pilot applicants had a distant history of ADHD during childhood or adolescence, which no longer seemed to have any serious effect on their daily lives.


The FAA requires applicants meet 2 specific criteria in order to be eligible for the ADHD/ADD Fast Track Pathway:

  1. Last symptoms or treatment of ADHD was greater than 4 years before exam.
  2. No other mental health diagnosis in the past or present (adjustment disorder, depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance use disorders, eating disorder etc)

Under the fast track program, pilots that meet the above two criteria must acquire and bring several evaluations and other documents to their medical certification examination. Assuming they meet all requirements, the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) can potentially issue a medical certificate on day of exam whereas previously they were forced to defer the exam to the FAA adding months to the process.

Although all AME's should be familiar with the new ADHD pathway, unfortunately many have not used the protocol. As the FAA's expert in mental health conditions, a Human Intervention Motivational Study (HIMS) AME is your true expert.


Go Flight Medicine
Occupational Medicine delivered with Laser-Guided Precision.
schedule now