Published in Midwest Flyer – December 2018/January 2019 issue
Thirty-six nations around the globe have already moved forward and abandoned costly and burdensome bureaucratic red-tape requirements associated with outdated medical certification processes for general aviation pilots. In a September 24, 2018 meeting at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) headquarters in Montreal, leaders representing the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) urged officials to keep pace with these changes as they review and update their standards for GA pilots.
ICAO Ambassador Thomas Carter greeted the IAOPA delegation, which included Mark Baker, president of both IAOPA and AOPA-US, IAOPA Secretary General Craig Spence, IAOPA General Counsel Ken Mead, AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Advocacy Jim Coon, and IAOPA’s ICAO representative Frank Hofmann. The nonprofit aviation membership group represents nearly 400,000 pilots in 79 countries.
Many countries have successfully developed and implemented new medical processes and rules. Just last year, “BasicMed” was introduced in the United States, and now more than 40,000 pilots are flying under the medical program. The United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries also have implemented changes aimed at reducing red tape for GA pilots.
IAOPA’s meeting with ICAO came just weeks ahead of the Thirteenth Air Navigation Conference in Montreal,
October 9-19, where industry stakeholders discussed the implementation of global strategies for safety, air navigation planning, and development. IAOPA encouraged ICAO to review existing protocols and develop common universal medical guidelines for GA pilots. This work is being done in furtherance of IAOPA Resolution 29/6, Harmonized International Civil Aviation Medical Standards, which was adopted unanimously at the twenty-ninth World Assembly hosted by AOPA New Zealand.
The aviation industry is also facing a shortage of skilled professionals, a problem that ICAO is working to address through its Next Generation of Aviation Professionals initiative. Similarly, AOPA is doing its part to encourage youth to get involved in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related fields and help grow the pilot population through its “You Can Fly” program.
During the visit to ICAO headquarters, Baker also discussed the many ways in which AOPA’s You Can Fly program can be used as a resource for nations around the world. The program works to inspire people to fly and keep them flying by reducing costs and regulatory hurdles, increasing access, and improving value.
Often, that starts in schools. Part of the You Can Fly program is the high school STEM curriculum, which encourages students to pursue careers in aviation. So far, it has proven a huge success as approximately 2,000 students in 81 schools are using AOPA’s ninth-grade curriculum.
You Can Fly also aims to get pilots involved in flying clubs to make aviation more affordable and to get a sense of camaraderie and support. This year, the program helped start 28 new clubs, for a total of 93 flying clubs started in recent years.
Additionally, IAOPA leaders spoke to ICAO officials about the countless aviation safety resources offered through the AOPA Air Safety Institute, including podcasts, seminars, web courses, and case studies.