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Federal authorities have been probing roughly 5,000 pilots who officials believe may have falsified their medical records to hide that they were earning benefits for significant health issues that could imperil their ability to fly safely, The Washington Post reported.
The pilots who have had their records examined are military veterans who informed the Federal Aviation Administration that they were suitable to fly, but didn't disclose that they were also receiving veterans benefits for various disabilities that could prevent them from effectively sitting in a pilot's seat.
Veterans Affairs investigators stumbled on the record inconsistencies over two years ago, but the FAA had not publicly disclosed many aspects of the investigation, according to The Post.
FAA spokesman Matthew Lehner told The Post that the agency had been probing around 4,800 pilots “who might have submitted incorrect or false information as part of their medical applications” and indicated that roughly half of the cases were closed. The spokesman also said 60 pilots who “posed a clear danger to aviation safety” were — for the moment — barred from the cockpit while their records were being looked over by officials.
Nearly 600 of the pilots who are being probed have licenses to fly the general public on passenger airlines, according to individuals with knowledge of the cases who spoke to The Post.