WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Flying Physicians Association (FPA) has become the latest group to lend support to third-class medical reform and is urging government officials to speed up their review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The NPRM would expand the number of pilots who could fly without a third-class medical certificate, a standard that has been successfully used by sport pilots for a decade. FPA is made up of pilot-physicians, including many aviation medical examiners.
The FPA letter asserted “from a medical perspective, very little significant pathology can be detected by an AME performing an FAA flight physical by the very nature of the examination requirements and procedures.”
In a survey of its members, 80 percent of respondents said they believe the third-class medical system is not necessary, does not add to safety, and can be eliminated for private flying.
FPA is just the latest group to ask the Department of Transportation to expedite its review process. Similar letters have been sent by 11 senators, 32 members of the House GA Caucus, and a coalition of seven general aviation industry groups led by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) which are co-sponsoring legislation to reform the third-class medical process.
In its letter, FPA suggested that pilots would be better served by a system that provides them with continuing education about maintaining their medical health and information needed to self-assess prior to flight.
“Additionally, a system is needed that encourages, instead of discourages, open and honest dialogue between pilots and their longtime personal treating physicians,” the Flying Physicians wrote. “We believe this is a much better practice than a cursory medical exam with a doctor who has no history or clinical knowledge of an individual, as is often the case with FAA physicals.”