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Home / Case Digests / 00-2821 Yetman v. Garvey

00-2821 Yetman v. Garvey

“[T]he rigorous nature of the FAA’s exemption requirements is not pertinent at this juncture. Our inquiry is limited to examining whether the FAA has appropriately considered the evidence, and provided sufficient justifications for its decisions. We cannot say that the FAA has failed to take into account new advances in medical technology. The fact that the agency (1) commissioned the Hilton System Study, and (2) developed and utilizes the CogScreen-AE in certifying pilots for flight shows that the agency has not shirked its obligation to keep current with medical progress. Yet given the fact the FAA has nevertheless denied every petition for exemption, an argument could be made that the FAA has examined these studies and protocols only to satisfy the burden which we have placed on the agency. However, that would require that we delve into the motivations of the agency, an inappropriate inquiry under our deferential standard of review. While our review of the evidence submitted by the petitioners might lead us to conclude that a strict age sixty cutoff, without exceptions, is a rule better suited to 1959 than to 2001, this court is not an expert in aerospace medicine, and Congress did not endow this court with the duty to make such a policy judgment. See Starr, 598 F.3d at 314. The FAA has the discretionary power to establish a rigid policy, whereby no exemptions are granted, until it is satisfied that medical standards can demonstrate an absence of risk factors in an individual sufficient to warrant a more liberal exemption policy from the Age Sixty Rule. Until the FAA determines that such standards exist, it may adhere inflexibly to a rule whose validity has been upheld by the courts and reevaluated by Congress, so long as it continues to consider, as we are satisfied it has done here, new advances in medical technology. Id.”

Affirmed.

On Petition for Review of an Order of the Federal Aviation Administration, Flaum, J.


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