Susan E. Northrup, M.D. FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon

Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine Online October/November 2021 issue

Dr. Susan E. Northrup, M.D. was appointed the Federal Air Surgeon of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in January 2021. She succeeded Michael Berry, who held the position since January 2017. 

In this capacity, Dr. Northrup leads the Office of Aerospace Medicine in Washington, D.C., providing strategic management of the FAA’s aviation medical programs, which oversee all pilots. This includes the development and establishment of airman medical certification, the air traffic control specialist medical qualification policy, the application of that policy in medical decision-making, the medical appeals process, and the oversight of aviation industry drug and alcohol testing programs. In addition, Dr. Northrup oversees the FAA’s aeromedical education programs, the planning and conduct of aerospace medical and human factors research, and the investigation of aircraft accident medical factors.

Dr. Northrup is a Senior FAA Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). In 1985, she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Chemistry with Honors at Ohio State University, and her medical degree in 1989. In addition, she was awarded a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Texas in 1994. 

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

Dr. Northrup is a private pilot, and a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. She is board certified in aerospace medicine and occupational medicine, an acknowledged expert in aviation, and has authored several scientific papers on accident investigation, the use of sleep aids by pilots, cabin air quality, and bioterrorism. While serving in the Air Force, she was the U.S. Head of Delegation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) aeromedical working group.

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