A's path to returning to the air will go something like this (and beware of the scary furlough monster that could strike at moment)-
1. Sometime in march: take more radioactive iodine (which means isolation from the rest of the family for a day or two) then endure two days of body scans to see if the cancer has returned. If anything shows up, wait three more months and repeat test as it may be a false positive (March is the very earliest we can have this test done, ideally we would wait until June). If test shows up negative (clear), move to step two.
2. Reconnect with the union areomedical group to being process of getting medical certificate reinstated. They will help shepherd us through the process, which may include additional test or doctor reports. We all know how quickly the wheels of government turn. Several months down the road when someone finally gets to the bottom of the pile and stamps "Approved" on the form we move to step three.
3. A is now cleared to fly but will need to undergo complete retraining by his airline. As wonderful as he is, they probably aren't going to want to go to the expense of running a complete "new hire" class just for him, so he will probably have to wait several more weeks until they scrape together a few people who need training as well. The good news is, there probably isn't such a crush for simulator time since no one else is running new hire classes either. After training comes the IOE (initial operating experience) and then the final check off to return to flight. And he can proceed directly to sitting on reserve in Newark.
4. Once he's signed off, he has to finish up two weeks of apprenticeship with the union and then he'll be a real, official airline pilot again.
A brought up the other day that at this point, he's been on leave longer than he was flying. It was one of those moments where I caught a glimpse of how much the situation really bothers him. As much as I complain about him while he's around, I sure will miss him when he's gone again.