The Right Doctor for Difficult Aviation Medical issues

Dr. Northrup's resume
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FAA and Industry face Significant Aviation Medical Issue

Federal Air Surgeon, Dr. Susan E. Northrup, MD, MPH

Incredible Academic Record. Work Experience, Professional Recognition

The FAA has a new, incredibly qualified Federal Air Surgeon, Dr. Susan E. Northrup, MD, MPH. She is a pioneer faced with frontiers of medical science in her new job. As the cover picture and the below biography show, the Doctor has an exceptional education, incredible professional activities, performance awards and, perhaps most impressive to many in the aviation community, a PPL!

The FAA  Office of Aerospace Medicine is responsible for a broad range of medical programs and services for both the domestic and international aviation communities. It is an organization which operates in relative obscurity (except when it dealt with obesity and sleep apnea[1]) , but has critical career impact from the individual Aviation Medical Examiners (AME).

Her new organization, especially the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI[2]), faces some cutting edge, technically very difficult and politically contentious  public health policy challenges:

seat pitch







SEAT PITCH/EMERGENCY EVACUATION: Congress and various airline passenger organization are convinced that aircraft seating/row/emergency/pitch will increase emergency evacuation times. Petitions and bills have demanded that the current standards be revised (research is due to be completed soon at CAMI)

Today’s Aircraft Seating Densities Are “SAFE”, But Are These Inflight Confrontations Symptoms Of Needed Revision Of Standards By FAA?

Three RI Members Of Congress Use Comfy Seats To Get Headlines

Airline Consumer Seat Review Must Focus On DoT’s Deregulation And FAA’s Safety Limits

New Seat Technology May Obviate Need For FAA Minimum Aircraft Seat Dimension Standards

Reality Check On FAA Seat Width/Pitch Evacuation Tests At CAMI

OIG REPORT On FAA Emergency Evacuations Misses Some Relevant Data

New Seat Technology May Obviate Need For FAA Minimum Aircraft Seat Dimension Standards

cabin air






CABIN AIR QUALITY : Flight attendants and Congress are certain that the air circulating through aircrafts is toxic. Research has been completed by several civil aviation authorities and in spite of their positive conclusions, Congress has mandated more:

Cabin Air Quality Studies Sponsored By EASA; New FAA Federal Air Surgeon Might Be Interested

A Cabin Air Safety Act Introduced With Assumptions Needing Testing

Aviation Safety Needs To Determine Whether Cabin Air Is Fair Or Foul In The SOF Context

Another Cabin Air Quality Study Adds To The Discussion; More Definitive Study Needed

miscellaneous med issues






DoT’s Response To Sen. Feinstein’s Letter About Pilots’ Mental Health Fails To Mention FAA Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee


FAA Request For Pilot Medical Records May Harm Effort To Find Mental Health Solutions

NE Journal Of Medicine Examines Onboard Emergencies; Airlines Should Move To Advance The Recommendations

AFA Says Time To Regulate Cabin Temperature, But Not How Or Who Or What-WHY?



Dr. Northrup

Dr. Susan E. Northrup was  recently appointed[3] U.S. Federal Air Surgeon at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), where she will oversee the agency’s medical initiatives and aeromedical education programs.  Northrup succeeds Dr. Michael Berry,MD, MS who held the role since January 2017.

Northrup is  the first female to be selected for the position and will oversee  airman medical certification, air traffic control specialist medical qualification policy, medical decision-making policy, aeromedical education programs, medical appeals, medical and human factors research, drug and alcohol testing programs, and aircraft accident investigations involving medical factors.

Northrup most recently served as acting deputy federal air surgeon, where she led FAA efforts to develop contingency plans to maintain continuity of operations at air traffic control facilities impacted by COVID-19. She currently chairs an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) working group on international entry testing and vaccination documentation, and also serves on ICAO’s Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation group.

Dr. Northrup is a senior FAA aviation medical examiner. She  is a past President of the American Society of Aerospace Medicine Specialists and the Civil Aviation Medical Association. She also was vice-president for the Aerospace Medicine Association. Dr. Northrup spent nine years (2007-2016) as a trustee for the American Board of Preventive Medicine. She is on the adjunct faculty for the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine and is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medicine Association.

 A private pilot and aircraft owner, Northrup previously served as the FAA’s former senior regional flight surgeon for the Southern Region. She is also a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and was deployed as part of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield and served as the U.S. head of delegation at the NATO Aeromedical Working Group.

She later served as commander of the 94th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia from February 2009 through November 2010. Prior to that, Northrup served as medical consultant for the National Pilots Association and regional medical director for Air Crew and Passenger Health Services for Delta Air Lines.

Northrup graduated from the Ohio State University in 1985 with a B.A. in chemistry and received her M.D. degree in 1989. She went on to earn a Master of Public Health degree in 1994 from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, after which she served a residency in occupational medicine at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas

Dr. Northrup’s military career was  exemplary demonstrated by her recognitions:  FAA Flight Surgeon of the Year, TAC Flight Surgeon of the Year, and the recipient of the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters.

[1] FAA Federal Air Surgeon Attacks Fat In Aviation; Flight Surgeon’s Sleep Apnea “Policy” Is Attacked By The Doctors Who Would Implement It; Flight Surgeon’s BMI/Sleep Apnea “Policy” Is A Nightmare Rule Subject To APA; Flight Surgeon Rekindles The Debate About Sleep Apnea Policy And Procedure; FAA Flight Surgeon’s Sleep Apnea Rules Corrected, But Procedural Flaw Not Cured; Doctor/Pilot Previews New FAA Sleep Apnea Policy




[3] Contrary to one report. Dr. Northrup was not a political appointee. The Flight Air Surgeon is a career position.

Dr. Northrup USAF


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