SAP Evaluations

Dr. Kirk is qualified as a HIMS psychiatrist and Substance Abuse Professional (SAP).

The SAP certification allows Dr. Kirk to evaluate pilots who have positive drug or alcohol tests under the Department of Transportation (DOT) random, pre-employment, post-accident, and reasonable cause testing protocols.

For a positive DOT confirmed by a Medical Review Officer (MRO), the pilot must follow DOT protocol, which mandates an initial  SAP evaluation, a referral to treatment or education, a followup SAP evaluation, and recommendations for followup testing.

The SAP regulations are complex. The recommendations often fail to conform to the FAA’s expectations of what comes next for a pilot with a positive DOT test.

To a pilot, the consequences of a DOT+ are harsh. The FAA often revokes the medical certificate and sometimes all pilot ratings, and then it takes time to start moving through the requirements. The “normal” workflow, when your SAP is not your aviation psychiatrist, goes something like this:

  • DOT+ (pilot normally notified by MRO within seven days)
  • Schedule and complete an SAP evaluation (typically 2-4 weeks to find an evaluator and schedule an appointment)
  • SAP referral to education or treatment (varies, will generally take 4-12 weeks to complete the recommendations)
  • Schedule and complete an SAP follow evaluation (2-4 weeks)
  • If  the pilot  is considered in compliance by the SAP, the pilot files a report with the FAA and waits for the FAA’s determination (usually about 10 weeks)
  • If the FAA does not approve the pilot as qualified for a medical certificate, the pilot will schedule an aviation psychiatry evaluation (normally takes 2-12 weeks)
  • Get an aviation psychiatry report (another 2-12 weeks)
  • File the report with the FAA (another 10 weeks or so to get the FAA’s decision)

The DOT regulations do not allow you to skip any step along the way, no matter the qualification or expertise of your HIMS doctors. 

With Dr. Kirk, the pilot will complete a HIMS evaluation parallel to the SAP assessment.


  • All reports you send to the FAA will be written to the more exacting HIMS standard, instead of the SAP standard.
  • Your SAP report will be written by an expert aviation psychiatrist. You will not have to secure a second evaluator to satisfy the FAA’s requirements.
  • The pilot will be referred for treatment or education customized to FAA norms rather than generic recommendations common to the other regulated DOT industries. The FAA’s expectations for a pilot are radically different than what a truck driver or pipeline worker must do after a positive DOT test.
  • If the aviator appears likely to meet the FAA’s criteria for Substance Dependence, the pilot would be quickly steered into a compliant HIMS program.

The costs of burning time are enormous. A SAP evaluation that does not address the aeromedical impact (not just the general transportation) issues of a DOT+  is not going to pass the FAA.

To the pilot, current or future lost wages range from $10,000 – $35,000 per month of delay. To the company, the costs of a grounded pilot, increased use of reserve crew, and inefficiency of regional, national, or global operations are measured in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

To schedule a combined SAP/HIMS PSYCHIATRY evaluation, please click this sentence.