WASHINGTON , D.C. – In a letter written August 15, 2014, seven influential general aviation organizations urged U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to complete his department’s review of the FAA notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on third-class medical reform within the next 30 days and open the proposal for public comment.
The letter notes that changing the third-class medical process could save pilots as much as $140 million a year and the FAA more than $1 million a year – money that could be reinvested in ways that do much more to enhance safety, including increased proficiency flying and installing advanced safety equipment in aircraft (i.e. ADS-B out, which the FAA has mandated for all aircraft to be so equipped by January 1, 2020). The letter also notes that the FAA first recognized that pilots do not need a third-class medical certificate to fly safely a decade ago when it instituted the standard for sport pilots.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a crowd of hundreds of pilots gathered for the “Meet The Administrator Forum” during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014 that he believes that it is in the best interests of all if his agency makes the changes without a mandate from Congress, as he believes there will be greater flexibility in tweaking any rule, versus a law created by Congress.
Nearly 3 years ago, AOPA and EAA jointly filed a petition with the FAA to enable pilots to fly without a third-class medical certificate with certain limitations and requirements. When the FAA allowed the AOPA-EAA petition to languish, AOPA turned to friends in Congress for help.
On Dec. 11, 2013, two Midwest congressmen, Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Indiana), a member of the House General Aviation Caucus, and GA Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri), introduced the “General Aviation Pilot Protection Act” (GAPPA). GAPPA now has 129 co-sponsors in the House and 17 in the Senate.
The leaders of the Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association and National Business Aviation Association cosigned the letter.
In preparation for third-class medical reform, the general aviation industry is developing a comprehensive online education course to ensure that pilots have the information needed to self-assess their fitness to fly.