Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.) have introduced a bill in the U.S. House that seeks to abolish the third-class medical certificate for many pilots who fly recreationally.
The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Reps. Bill Flores (R-Texas), Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and Richard Hanna (R-NY), would require pilots who fly recreationally to hold a valid driver’s license in lieu of a third-class medical certificate and operate under specific limitations.
“This legislation addresses two goals EAA has long advocated: Eliminating excess red tape in the medical certification process while maintaining a safe way to keep pilots flying,” said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman of the board. “Our members and the general aviation community have long supported a change in the medical certification process. This proposal will maintain safety, reduce costs for pilots and the federal government, and allow people to pursue the unique freedom of flight in the same way they can pursue other powered recreational activities.”
The proposed rule would allow pilots to use a valid state driver’s license in place of the traditional medical certificate if the flights are:
- Not for compensation
- Conducted in VFR operations only, at or below 14,000 feet MSL
- No faster than 250 knots
- In aircraft with no more than six seats and no more than 6,000 pounds’ gross takeoff weight.
In addition to allowing pilots to operate common GA aircraft for recreational flying without a third-class medical, the bill mandates that the FAA prepares and sends a report to Congress detailing the impact of the bill’s passage on general aviation safety within five years of the bill’s enactment.
“EAA and other GA associations worked with Rep. Rokita in developing this legislation, as we are committed to lowering barriers to aviation participation,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. “This legislation is a step toward both of those goals. The third-class medical certificate does little to evaluate the day-to-day fitness of pilots flying recreationally. There are better ways to maintain high medical standards for aviation and allow people the freedom to enjoy the world of flight.”
EAA and other aviation groups have regularly petitioned the FAA for medical certification updates and changes, most recently in the joint EAA/AOPA third-class medical certificate exemption request in March 2012. The FAA has yet to move on the request, despite more than 16,000 supportive comments to the docket during the public comment period, EAA officials say.