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What is a HIMS AME?

A HIMS AME is an FAA designated Senior Airman Medical Examiner who is trained in evaluating airmen for substance- or alcohol-related conditions and other mental health conditions such as Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, etc.  

While primarily serving airline pilots who are in recovery as part of the Human Interventional Motivation Study (HIMS) Program, the FAA may direct any pilot to consult a HIMS AME for possible special issuance of medical certification for these conditions.

What is the HIMS Program?

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 is a partnership, a team approach.

HIMS is a voluntary, occupational substance abuse treatment program, specific to commercial pilots, that coordinates the identification, treatment, and return to work process for affected aviators.  It is abstinence based.

The focus of HIMS isn’t regulation (prescribing conduct) but about changing thinking (culture of safety).  Recovery is a state of mind, not merely the absence of drugs; a process, not an event.

For more information, click this link.

What is substance abuse (including alcohol)?

For aviation medicine, substance abuse is defined somewhat differently than current psychiatric definitions.  A comparison of the definitions is shown in the table in this document.  It is important to realize that the FAA will use the definition in the CFR's when defining a substance abuse problem; as using other definitions may cause confusion.

What is the HIMS process?

For airline pilots, the process is summarized in the Pre-Special Issuance and Post-Special Issuance Diagrams below (click for full size).  


Generally, the HIMS AME becomes involved following "treatment box"; the airlines HIMS director will provide specific instructions on when to consult the HIMS AME.  

After special issuance has been granted, further monitoring will be required


For private pilots, or pilots flying for companies that do not have an in-house HIMS program, the above processes are a bit more challenging, as there is not company financial backing for many of the required monitoring steps.  The process will need to be individualized in the areas of the diagram designated for monitoring by the Company Management and a Peer Pilot.

Individuals on selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depression or anxiety referred by the FAA to a HIMS AME will have a process that is different that those being evaluated for substance abuse. 

What to expect at the first visit?


The first visit is typically a one-two hour session (later sessions will be 45-50 minutes).  During this time, the HIMS AME will provide an overview of the HIMS Program and the Special Issuance Process.

The FAA Airman’s Medical Record will be reviewed in detail prior to the airman's visit and then again with the airman.  The airman will be required to sign a comprehensive release form for other records and information that may be required for the HIMS process.  These records will include Diagnostic records, Inpatient records, and Intensive outpatient therapy records, any aftercare records (AA), Chief pilot letters, and sponsor letters.

The HIMS AME will interview the airman at length regarding their medical, psychological, social, and family history, especially as it relates to the reason for entry into the HIMS Program.  This will include a brief writing assignment.

The session will end with development of a plan of action and scheduling of the next HIMS AME appointment.  Frequency of appointments will vary depending on the situation: typically monthly prior to receiving the Special Issuance; less frequently thereafter.   

Is it worth it?

The HIMS program is highly successful, with 85% of participants achieving and maintaining sobriety (and their aeromedical certification). 

Useful links

Birds of a Feather Pilot Recovery Program

AME Appointment Scheduling

Contact our office at 281-351-7155 and inform our office that HIMS AME specific records will be sent for appointment scheduling.


A copy of your Records can be requested through the following:


  1. A copy of the Certified FAA Letter indicating your need to consult a HIMS AME. This will need to be emailed to with personal contact information for scheduling.


     2. Copy of your FAA Airman Medical Record. This can be requested via phone by calling 405-954-4821 or by submitting the Medical Records Request Form found on the following webpage:


     3.  Treating Physician Medical Records (SSRI, ADHD), Court Records/Police Records (DWI), if these have not been supplied to the FAA.


These records will be required to schedule the Initial HIMS AME Evaluation. Once our office receives your records, we will contact you to schedule your appointment.


Records can be sent to:


Earl E Martin DO

Martin Diagnostic Clinic

710 Lawrence St.

Tomball, Tx 77375

Fax: 281-290-9579


Drug/Alcohol Testing

Drug/Alcohol Testing may include the following;



The following laboratories (CAP Accredited) may be used:


  • Quest Diagnostics

  • Millennium Health Laboratories

Costs of HIMs

Overall, the HIMS Program is extensive (typically a minimum of 7 years) and costly. This is a cash program only; health insurance will not be accepted.  Payments must be made at the time of the visit by Credit Card or Cash.


At times, financial assistance may be available through the the Non-Profit Organization, the Aviation Family Fund.


The application for assistance can be downloaded at the following website:





Pricing is as follows:


Substance Abuse


$300 – Initial Review of Records (This must be paid in full before records will be reviewed and Initial Evaluation appointment scheduled).


$600 – Initial HIMS AME Evaluation (Typically a 1-2 hour appointment)



$4000 – Flat Fee for 1st Year after initial evaluation is completed and both parties (HIMS AME and Pilot) decide to work together.




$300 – Initial Review of Records (This will be paid in full before records will be reviewed and Initial Evaluation appointment scheduled).


$600 – Initial HIMS AME Evaluation (Typically a 1-2 hour appointment)


$600/visit (Typically 2-3 visits/year)



$300 – Initial Review of Records (This will be paid in full before records will be reviewed and Initial Evaluation appointment scheduled).


$300/visit if needed (Typically a 30-minute appointment).


Cost of drug screening is not collected by Martin Diagnostic Clinic but will be from the Laboratory that is performing the testing.

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