Thanks for your question.
When answering this question about driving, I usually answer that it depends on a patient's recovery from surgery and how they're doing physically. You would need clearance from your surgeon as well as your medical doctor. The range I've seen is 6 weeks to 3 months.
However, flying is a much more complicated situation. You not only need clearance from your doctors, you need to be cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). I've had patients with hypertension who would ask me to write a letter to the FAA whenever there was a medication change. If I performed a yearly evaluation, I would have to write a letter to document their health status. And certainly, if there was a new diagnosis, the FAA was also informed, and they had the final say concerning flight status.
In the case of coronary artery disease - post bypass surgery, there is a minimum time period of 6 months for Class III (recreational and private pilot duty) to be considered for recertification. Certain requirements must also be met before consideration. These include:
-the hospital discharge summary, catheterization report, operative report, and hospital discharge summary
-a current cardiovascular evaluation including history, physical, blood work, and assessment of
current health status
-a maximal ECG treadmill stress test performed no sooner than six months after the procedure
Once these requirements are met, then the FAA will decide on your flight status. The FAA is not only concerned with the safety of the pilot, they are also concerned with the safety of passengers and other people. You can find this and other related information on the FAA website.
Martin Cane, M.D.