The pilots were all military veterans and have been accused of knowingly hiding serious health conditions or mental health disorders to the FAA. Ironically, they reported these conditions to other officials to collect their disability benefits.
In a statement, spokesman Matthew Lehner said the irregularities were first discovered over two years ago. At least 4,800 pilots have been investigated and half of those cases have been closed. Out of all the pilots currently under investigation, at least 600 are licensed to fly passenger airlines, while the rest have commercial licenses that allow them to be hired by cargo firms and other companies.
Out of the recorded cases, at least 60 pilots "posed a clear danger to aviation safety" and were ordered to cease flying while their records were being reviewed, explained Lehner.
He added that for the rest of the pilots whose cases are still open, many of them may continue to operate safely while the reconciliation process is ongoing. (Related: America is witnessing DELIBERATE DESTRUCTION of its aviation industry.)
The shocking admission has highlighted a long-criticized method wherein the FAA's medical system screens pilots while still relying on aviators to self-report their conditions. Experts have warned that this method encourages veterans to hide their conditions from the FAA so they can keep working. At the same time, veterans may often exaggerate the conditions to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to maintain disability payments and coverage.
Jerome Limoge, an aviation medical examiner in Colorado Springs, said some pilots are doing this to "play both sides of the game. Limoge added that the VA is even encouraging them to claim everything.
During the investigation, the FAA also found that some of its own contracted physicians have told pilots to conceal their conditions.
The FAA's Office of Aerospace Medicine has set aside $3.6 million to hire new medical experts and staff to reexamine certification records for the pilots under investigation.
By 2019, investigators finally acquired the means to compare FAA data with VA records. During this time, U.S. Inspector General Michael Evan Horowitz's office alerted officials to the nearly 5,000 suspicious cases.
Pilots who have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions are not automatically prohibited from flying. However, the FAA requires them to be closely monitored because their conditions and medications can affect their ability to safely handle an aircraft.
Horowitz's office is still investigating if any of the pilots flagged in the records sweep should be charged with defrauding the VA. According to court records, at least 10 pilots have been prosecuted on federal charges for lying to the FAA since 2018, including Rick Mangini.
Mangini, who is 52 and a former Army pilot, has been grounded from flying for a cargo company because he failed to reveal his sleep apnea, which he reported to the VA so he could receive disability benefits.
He claimed that while the oversight needed to be resolved, the current crackdown seems to only affect veterans.
Talking about non-veterans, Mangini said he knows several pilots who have told him about medical conditions that they haven't disclosed to the FAA. He added that what the FAA is doing to veterans is "the definition of harassment."
The FAA's records show that at least one-third of the country's 110,000 commercial pilots are those who learned to fly in the military.
Watch the video below to learn about a pilot who suffered a heart attack at the Richmond International Airport.
This video is from The Prisoner channel on Brighteon.com.