Delta pilot accused of lying about mental health issues to keep flying

Credit: Mario Tama

Credit: Mario Tama

A Delta Air Lines pilot from Fayette County has been indicted on charges he misled government officials about his mental health so he could keep flying.

Adam Asleson, 39, of Peachtree City, is accused of falsifying Federal Aviation Administration medical records required to obtain airman medical certificates, which are critical to determining a pilot's fitness to fly aircraft.

The FAA alleges that Asleson, who joined Delta in 2017, according to his Facebook page, omitted that he had sought help from the Department of Veterans Affairs for what the indictment described as a “major depressive disorder.” Instead, Asleson, who had been a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, is said to have told the agency he received the VA disability benefits for knee strain and tinnitus.

Asleson’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

Delta said in a statement that Asleson is no longer actively flying for the carrier.

“Delta pilots are held to the highest standards of professionalism, honesty and integrity,” spokeswoman Catherine Simmons said. “Once made aware of the situation, we opened an internal investigation and are working cooperatively with the authorities.”

The indictment came as the FAA has begun to compare VA records with pilot information to avoid the possibility of having someone at the controls who has had mental health issues. The downing of Germanwings Flight 9525 in 2015 put a spotlight on mental health after the plane's co-pilot, who had been treated for suicidal tendencies and had been ruled unfit to work but kept the diagnosis secret, intentionally crashed a plane into a mountainside in the Alps.

Asleson is one of four airline pilots from across the nation indicted in August in U.S. District Court in for the Northern District of California for making false statements to the FAA in their medical certificates paperwork.

The four men, who are receiving disability benefits from the VA for mental health issues, are accused of neglecting to disclose information that would have disqualified them from operating aircraft.

Asleson was arrested Aug. 28 and released on a $10,000 bond, according to records.

The indictment did not name the disorder from which Asleson allegedly suffers.

Asleson is set for a first appearance in the District Court in San Francisco on Oct. 3. If he convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this story.

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