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Northrup Is Next Federal Air Surgeon

January 11, 2021

Northrup Is Next Federal Air Surgeon

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that Susan E. Northrup, M.D., M.P.H., FAsMA, will be the next U.S. Federal Air Surgeon.

As U.S. Federal Air Surgeon, she will have direct oversight of all FAA medical programs. 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. She also 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. Previously, she served as acting Deputy Federal Air Surgeon and the Senior Regional Flight Surgeon. Dr. Northrup is the first woman to be selected as the U.S. Federal Air Surgeon.
   Dr. Northrup graduated from the Ohio State University with a B.A. in Chemistry in 1985 and received her M.D. degree in 1989. She served a Family Practice internship at the Ohio State University Hospitals from 1989-1990 and then earned a M.P.H. in 1994 from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, after which she served a Residency in Aerospace Medicine from 1994-1995 and a Residency in Occupational Medicine from 1995 to 1996 at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks AFB, TX, USA. She graduated from the Air War College Jump Start Program in 2003. She served in the U.S. Air Force from 1990-2010 as a Flight Surgeon at Moody AFB, GA, USA; Chief of Aeromedical Services at Prince Sultan Air Base at Al Kharj, and Dhahran Air Base, Saudi Arabia; Chief of Aerospace Medicine at Pope AFB, NC, USA; and Chief of Operational Medicine at Bolling AFB, DC, USA. 
   During this time, Dr. Northrup deployed as part of Desert Storm and Desert Shield and was the U.S. Head of Delegation at the NATO Aeromedical Working Group, U.S. Coordinating Member at the Air Standardization Coordinating Committee, Working Party 61, and a member of the Repatriated Prisoner of War Study Group Scientific Advisory Board at the Robert Mitchell Center, NAS Pensacola, FL. From 2001 to 2005, she also served as Regional Medical Director of Air Crew and Passenger Health Services at Delta Air Lines, Inc. In 2005, she became a Medical Consultant for the National Pilots Association and in 2009, she became Commander of the 94th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Dobbins AFB, GA. She was appointed as FAA Regional Flight Surgeon for the Southern Region in 2007, a position she still holds. 
   Dr. Northrup's awards and honors include FAA Flight Surgeon of the Year, TAC Flight Surgeon of the Year, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Achievement Medal with a single oak leaf cluster, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor and a single oak leaf cluster. The Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) presented her with the John A. Tamisiea Award in 2015 and the Admiral John C. Adams Award in 2020. She is a member of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, the Society of USAF Flight Surgeons, the International Airline Medical Association, the Civil Aviation Medical Association, the American Society of Aerospace Medicine Specialists, and the American Board of Preventive Medicine. She is also a Selector for the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine and was Chair of the Air Transportation Association Medical Committee.  A private pilot and retired U.S. Force Colonel, Dr. Northrup is board certified in aerospace medicine and in occupational medicine. She is an acknowledged expert in aviation medicine, having served as the Vice-Chair for Aerospace Medicine on the American Board of Preventive Medicine. While serving in the Air Force, she was the U.S. Head of Delegation to NATO’s aeromedical working group. More recently, she has served the FAA as the FAA medical subject matter expert to ICAO’s COVID response activities and the COVID IMT and the Office of Aerospace Liaison to the Air Traffic Organization. Dr. Northrup is a past President of the American Society of Aerospace Medicine Specialists and the Civil Aviation Medical Association.