FAA Releases Final Rule & Effective Date For Third Class Medical Reform

Published in Midwest Flyer – February/March 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) have reacted favorably to the FAA release of its final rule for “Third Class Medical Reform, which the agency has named “BasicMed.”

Teams of AOPA and EAA experts are now examining the regulations, which appear to closely mirror the legislation signed into law on July 15, 2016. Pilots should note that BasicMed will not be effective until May 1, so they cannot fly under the rule until then.

The law guaranteed that pilots holding a valid third-class medical certificate issued in the 10 years before the reform was enacted would be eligible to fly under the new rules. New pilots and pilots whose most recent medical expired more than 10 years prior to July 2016 will be required to get a one-time third-class exam from an FAA-designated AME.

The FAA was required to implement the law within 180 days of its signing, or January 12. Since EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016, FAA senior leadership has been assuring EAA and AOPA that the 180-day deadline would be met.

Because it is final, the rule – named “BasicMed” by the FAA – will not go out for a typical public comment period. The FAA also said it would publish an advisory circular describing the implementation of the rule later this week.

“BasicMed is the best thing to happen to general aviation in decades,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. “By putting medical decisions in the hands of pilots and their doctors, instead of the FAA, these reforms will improve safety while reducing burdensome and ineffective bureaucracy that has thwarted participation in general aviation.”

In the near future, AOPA will offer a free online medical course to let pilots comply with the rules of BasicMed. The course is just one part of a suite of resources for pilots and physicians that AOPA is launching to help people take full advantage of BasicMed. AOPA is calling them our “Fit to Fly” resources and they include an interactive tool that helps you determine if you qualify for BasicMed, as well as FAQs and other important information for pilots and doctors.

After meeting the initial requirements laid out in the regulations, pilots will need to visit any state-licensed physician at least once every four years and take a free online medical course every two years. A certificate of completion of the course and the checklist from the physician must be kept in the pilot’s logbook.

Baker said, “AOPA’s Fit to Fly resources will help ensure pilots can fly under the reforms we fought so hard to pass.”

EAA CEO/Chairman Jack J. Pelton added, “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, as the provisions of aeromedical reform become something that pilots can now use. EAA and AOPA worked to make this a reality through legislation in July, and since then the most common question from our members has been, ‘When will the rule come out?’ We now have the text and will work to educate members, pilots, and physicians about the specifics in the regulation.”

EAA has updated its Q&A and will continue to update them to provide the latest information. EAA is also working with its aeromedical and legal advisory councils to provide resources that will help members and their personal doctors understand the provisions of the new regulations.

Indiana Congressman and pilot, Todd Rokita, who serves on the General Aviation Caucus, said:  “The updated FAA third class medical rule closely follows Congressional intent, with the comprehensive medical examination written exactly as we laid out in the law. This is a true win for the general aviation community. We have fought for years against these burdensome regulations, and I am pleased to see a third class medical reform rule that does away with unnecessary government red tape to keep the skies safe and accessible for all aviators.”

During the 113th and 114th Congresses, Rep. Rokita introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA), leading the way on third class medical reform.

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