Questions erupt over EAA/AOPA medical plan

“I’m of mixed feelings over this,” express many LSA industry participants who have caused my phone to ring regularly since late September. That’s when EAA and AOPA came together to address requests from some members for a driver’s license “medical,” which would allow aviators with certificates beyond Sport Pilot to fly GA aircraft with clearly defined limitations without the need for an FAA medical.

In the weeks that followed the announcement, numerous LSA professionals expressed dismay with the initiative. A dozen cancelled sales have been reported and that is not likely to represent the whole picture. A common complaint is the LSA industry was unaware of the plan until just before the announcement was made at the AOPA Aviation Summit in September. In fact, no discussion occurred between the member organizations and the LSA industry.

Work to formulate a written proposal to FAA is underway; a date for presentation to the agency has not been announced.

Many LSA business people appear concerned that the initiative challenges head-on the most compelling sales tool for LSA sellers, specifically, the lack of requirement for an FAA medical. While LSAs have many other positive qualities that aid sales — lower prices, lower fuel use, less noise, roomier cockpits, modern technology, etc. — losing the #1 selling reason has caused considerable angst among those who have invested years of their time and substantial amounts of money to build the LSA industry.

While many are conflicted, others are just confused. One intriguing question that just arose regards a new Sport Pilot who may wish to fly a four-seat GA aircraft (with no more than two persons on board, among other limitations). Does the Sport Pilot presently in training have to get a medical (part of the private pilot application process) to be able to solo a Cessna 172 or equivalent? Also, the private certificate demands night and instrument training even though neither kind of flying can be done under the EAA/AOPA proposed initiative. Must a Sport Pilot pay for training to acquire those skills even though they cannot use them (without a medical)?

These questions and more might be asked of EAA president Rod Hightower, who will speak to LSA professionals at the Fifth Annual LAMA Dinner at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo (the LAMA Dinner is not open to the public, only to people in the LSA business).

For more Sport Pilot and LSAs:


  1. W H says

    I just checked at This bill has not yet got out of committee. I don’t see which committee it was assigned to. Govtrack gives it a 14% chance of getting out of committee and a 4% chance of passage by Congress.

    We’re gonna have to kick up a lot of dust to get anywhere on this.

    Reading these comments and watching the FAA over the years, reminds me that this is just our small part of the massive, growing, Orwellian, Kafkaesque world this once-great nation and society have become. The FAA will fight us every step of the way. (How is that for “of the people by the people for the people”?)

    General Aviation has been such a great arena for me to participate in over the years. GA seems to be one of the few parts of our world left that embody civilized cooperation and independent responsible behavior.

    Do your best to get your colleagues to put pressure on their congress men and women, to get this out of committee and pass it. It is guaranteed to die without all of us pushing. Next time around will be just that much harder.

  2. Drew says

    There are (3) Three.. LSA’s available for rental in my entire state. Partnerships are non-existant for LSA pilots and many are not in the position to purchase a $100k+ airplane. 152/172’s are easy to find for rental… it’s a no-brainer…. until these smaller aircraft are made more available, I’m fully behind the Drivers License medical upgrade.

  3. Rpm says

    Rudyh50 – you are presuming that “you folks” are playing around…”you folks” are the EAA & AOPA, collectively representing over 500,000 people.  They would not have entered into this sensible proposal had they not looked at the statistics showing that there has not been accidents related to this segment, thus the sensible change with the twofold purpose of reducing government in our lives and keeping some customers in a hemorrhaging industry.  If government manages the fitness standards, that probably means they are unrealistic and ALWAYS in need of overhaul or review by somebody.

    May ALL FARs be similarly reviewed and culled down to sensibility again.

    • Rudyh50 says

      And those are the ‘sheep’ I’m talking about! If you want some fast progress on the issue you must lengthen the period of validity of those medicals. The FAA may smile and the docs get their ‘fees’, pilots get the medicals and fly on….they just don’t have to PAY as often. (Over 40 age [make that over 45 age]  pilots will definitely still need the scrutiny that is required now. I am NOT a doc….we’re talkin’ reality here, there will NOT be a majority of pilots in ANY category that wil honestly ‘self-supervise’ on the important medical issues we face. What say you about lengthening the valid periods of the medicals? ‘Dropping requirements’ may come along later, albeit much later due to governmentese…..

  4. Rudyh50 says

    Time to stop fixing something that isn’t broke from the safety standpoint… want to appease the FAA and the examiners?…..then start by lengthening the time periods that each class of physical is valid for…start somewhere…third class – 5 years;  second class – 3 years;  first class – 2 years (all for under 40 age aviators) you folks got stop playing around with medical fitness standards that professional doctors make the calls on. Medical fitness has to be supervised!!!! 

  5. Condorlxix says

    What the AOPA / EAA initiative is requesting is an ‘exemption’ from the rule requiring a medical to operate the aircraft that meet the Recreational Pilot rules, i.e. fixed gear, fixed pitch prop, 180 HP max, 4 place (with two seats occupied). 

    What the proposal is NOT requesting is a change to the rules which would allow a new student to start flying toward achieving a Recreational Pilot certificate without a medical.

    Thus, the only people who will be able to take advantage of the AOPA / EAA proposal would be pilots who already hold a Recreational or higher pilot certificate who let their medical expire, and who have not had a medical denied.

    These pilots will rapidly decrease in numbers with time.

    What we need is the ability to train new pilots to the Recreational Pilot certificate level without obtaining a medical if we wish to increase (or stop the decrease) of the pilot population.

  6. Jock says

    “numerous LSA professionals expressed dismay with the initiative”
    Oh well, requiring first class medical would really help them but if we really want more people in aviation we should support this initiative.

  7. Colin Macdonald says

    Come on, “they are conflicted or confused” Really?
    If the LSA folks had real confidence in what they are selling they would see that this proposal would help the whole industry and, in turn, there bussiness. I have my PPL and would still consider buying an LSA? After all a new LSA is still cheaper then a lot of used certified aircraft and not being limited by a sport pilot license would allow the plane to be used on many different missions.

  8. J. Herbert says

    Anyone who can legally drive should be able to pilot a modern easy to fly and navigate a plane.  Whats the diff between 3 passengers or 4.  Just some government beaurocrats acting like the Gestapo for power over the people.  Life , liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a GUARANTEE, UNDER THE CONSTITUTION , so they need to drop the entire FARS and redo them to suit the people, not the government . 

  9. BJ says

    Well, If you have gig plans to make money off of the deal, you are against it. If for
    the freedom and enjoyment of life without “Fast Buck” guys’ interferrance and more
    people able to afford to fly,,,,, then you are for it

  10. RFSchaller says

    It would be very unfortunate for the GA community if the LSA manufacturers oppose this based on market forces, and I think the backlash will be worse for them if they do oppose this.

  11. Davidtait1 says

    The price of a new LSA is still too expensive for most of us that fly for fun.  It is ridiculous that J3’s are included and 150’s and 152’s are too heavy.   I can rent a nicely equipped 172SP wet for $150/hour in my hometown.  There are no LSA rentals within 250 miles of  where I live.  I look forward to the FAA acceptance of the proposal. 

  12. ALETHEIA says

    Tough titty, Danny Boy. Too many in the LSA “industry” (including EAA and this author/shill) started out ethics-free in touting aircraft and manufacturers they knew were speculative, dishonest, nonexistent, or, worse, mechanically flawed.  Also by  pushing for lower and lower standards such as letting “dual” received from UL Cowboy “instructors” (the ones who for decades defied UL regulations and killed dozens even hundreds – see NTSB and other records – by illegally flying two seaters recreationally and recklessly)  count the same as real dual toward not just private but ATP.  The Sport Pilot Industry has matured as evidenced by the lies now extending to used aircraft (“Well, yeah, this 2 seat jab-powered Tennessee experimental used to gross over 1400 and cruise all day over 150K but you can buy it,  change the prop and remove the wheel pants and license it as ELSA now and fly no medical = BULLSHT!) Tighten your belts and stop lying to consumers, Dan and friends.  Safe Affordable Freedom For All is at hand.

  13. Flyer4fun says

    It is an excellent and timely proposal. The LSA industry un ashamedly wanted to cash in on people who wanted to fly but had some or other medical condition and so that in order to do so would mean buying a horribly overpriced “flivver”.  sort of almost a hostage situation.  Sell your product on its merits not some one elses misery.

  14. Airwolf172 says

    We already have the Recreational Certificate which allows flying the 172 with only
    1 passenger and no night flight. I have this certificate and enjoy it as one step above
    the sport pilot aircraft.  I would like to see it made so that you don’t need the medical for this certificate. Seems logical since neither can fly in class C or B airspace and can only fly with one passenger and cannot fly at night.

  15. Rpm says

    I agree with Sebastien below: let’s applaud the overall obvious benefits the move will bring.  It could very well persuade thousands to at least stay in the industry, and provide a welcome “oh wow” factor for many thousands even considering entering aviation at all.

    What is especially disconcerting to me is that that are already those in LSA that believe their identity must be preserved for sake of preservation, kinda like the flight training industry.  This myopia kills industries.  We need more vision and coordinated improvements good for all.  Anybody with concerns need to get out of their self-indulgent bubble just for a moment and see how this really benefit them – and all of us.  The Aviation Access Project in the works will make sure of it.

  16. Kd137 says

    I too am a licensed private pilot that would love to fly for pleasure but because of my size there is no way I could have anyone with me to enjoy it with me.

    Besides I already pass a CDL physical every year for half of what it cost for an aviation medical and my insurance covers it

  17. Andrewschmertz says

    I have always believed that if the main selling point for LSAs continued to be the lack of medical requirement, the industry would fail.  Building a business on a specific regulatory rule- and one that is a ‘negative’- is poor.  LSAs need to stand on their own as a) less expensive modern aircraft and b) fun, recreational planes and c) modern trainers.  If they cannot, the business will fail no matter any regulatory changes over the medical.

  18. Dbcrn says

    The proposal does not allow Sport Pilots to fly aircraft outside Light Sport parameters.  What it proposes is the holder of a Private (or higher) certificate to fly certain aircraft within certain parameters without renewing the medical.  A Light Sport pilot would not be qualified to fly a 4 seat aircraft or at night, period. If they wanted to, they would have to get their Private (or recreational, if it still exists).  This would include passing a 3rd class medical at least once.

  19. Sebastien Heintz says

    Let’s focus on the big picture: this initiative is good for pilots and the aviation industry and we should all support and promote it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *