Human Interventional Motivation Study
The FAA sponsored HIMS or *Human Interventional Motivation Study is an approach or program that coordinates the identification, treatment and return-to-work process for affected aviators. It is an industry-wide effort in which managers, pilots, healthcare professionals and the FAA work together to preserve careers and enhance air safety. It has been expanded to include pilots seeking to return to flying while taking anti-depressants (SSRIs) and general aviation pilots with complicated medical problems. More information is available: www.himsprogram.com
The HIMS AME’s role is to help guide the pilot through the evaluation process, to collect the necessary data, and to summarize the pilot’s risk assessment. The data and summary are then submitted to the FAA. The FAA will then make their determination regarding a Special Issuance or SI.
Dr. Burress, AME 19977, prefers a face to face initial HIMS meeting. In special circumstances, Dr. Burress will discuss by phone or exchange email with pilots to answer key questions/grasp background of the case. Dr. Burress will review any letter(s) from the FAA asking for more information from the pilot. He will request that a release be signed by the pilot to obtain copy of FAA files for Dr. Burress to reviews as well as the HIMS psychologist and HIMS psychiatrist evaluations if required. As a HIMS/AME, Dr. Burress will compile required items into a packet to be submitted to the FAA along with a summary letter articulating the pilot’s request for Special Issuance (SI).
In brief, components of the packet and key aspects of the HIMS program include:
- Random Drug and Alcohol Testing. When applicable, the pilot will be entered into a random program with typically with 14 tests over 12 months to ensure sobriety.
- AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or equivalent. After intensive inpatient or outpatient rehab program, the pilot must comply with aftercare recommendations and meaningfully participate in recover (e.g., 90 meetings in 90 days, interaction with AA Sponsor, etc.).
- Psychiatric Evaluation. For an uncomplicated SSRI SI, this could be your regular psychiatrist. For more complex cases, we recommend several psychiatrists who have experience in FAA matters and expectations.
- Neuropsychological Testing. This testing is used to document the neuropsychological status of the pilot/applicant by the FAA. It can cost well over $1,000. You may consider any psychologist, though for complex cases we generally recommend one of several psychologists who have experience with FAA matters and expectations. The FAA provides guidance on what they consider to be adequate testing.
- Pilot’s Personal Statement. The pilot’s personal statement is very important, since the FAA medical team reviews it to ensure that you as a pilot understand your medical situation. You should demonstrate self-awareness/acceptance of your medical condition, commitment to ongoing treatments and understanding of the FAA concerns. Pilots should explain any uncertainties in the record. The personal statement can be 2-3 pages for the basic SI for SSRI medications, and much longer for more complex SI requests.
- Treatment Records. Copies of all treatment records for the condition(s) of interest to the FAA.
- Submission Package Preparation
An important part of the HIMS/AME IMS role is to help the pilot acquire all pertinent information for the FAA to review. This is an expansive requirement, and more is better than less. The pilot should avoid giving the appearance of trying to “hide” anything from the FAA. Any adverse material that is presented later will be more difficult to explain.
See the URLs below for HIMS Checklists for additional details:
Additional Comments on the FAA HIMS Process
After the paperwork is submitted to the FAA, the pilot can expect 2-3 months for the material to be reviewed by the Washington, D.C. and/or Oklahoma City FAA offices. This is a multi-level review process by several different medical professionals. Completeness in the preparation and submission process may reclude additional requests for information.
After the FAA grants a Special Issuance, requirements are conveyed as to ongoing monitoring. Monitoring reinforces sobriety and may include further random drug and/or alcohol testing as well as periodic re-evaluations (e.g., annual HIMS psychiatrist).