FAA apologizes for delay on 3rd class medical petition

In a story posted on AOPA.org, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association reports that FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has formally responded to a request for an update on the status of the association’s third-class medical petition. In a Dec. 26 letter, Huerta apologized for the delay in taking action on the petition, saying it was important to “ensure that such an unprecedented change will not result in any adverse impact that could lead to degradation in safety.” Read the full report here.


  1. Bill Geary says

    With the way active pilots are depleting in numbers each year one would think the FAA would be more “Pro Active” in helping keep us older healthy studs flying. Some of us have
    tens of thousand flying hours logged and drive our mustangs in and out of the curves like we are still 19 years old. Many of us have been flying since the early 70s and have CFI and ATP ratings with no bent cars or aircraft. By the time the FAA gets around to it we’ll be up
    flying with our wives and the rest of the angels.

  2. John says

    The true absurdity of the 3rd class medical can be seen by comparing the numbers of deaths from various causes vs. G A. In all of GA there are about 450-500 deaths per year. Of those, a very small fraction are from medical incapacitation. It is doubtful it is more than 10%. Assuming 10%, that would be 45-50 deaths per year for medical causes. That number is in the same ballpark as the number of deaths from lightning strikes or even falling out of bed (literally). Now, what other activity with this low a death rate has a major federal bureaucracy policing it? NONE! There are more deaths per year in boating accidents (650) motorcycle accidents (4500) and auto accidents (30,000+). Yet, there is no medical requirement for any of these, or for a myriad of other risky activities. So, WHY are recreational pilots singled out for this bureaucratic harrassment?

  3. Otto Keesling says

    As the ole fellow once said either crap or get off the pot. We don’t need no stinkin physical. LSA is working well. Just decrease the restriction on equipment that would even help. I smell politics in this.

  4. Keith says

    FAA is in an unenviable spot.

    They know that they will save money when they no longer have to deal with the 3rd Class, but they’re afraid of the fallout from some guy driving his Bugsmasher 2000XL through the roof of an orphanage for blind kids, run by nuns, while they’re holding their annual live telethon. It doesn’t matter that the guy will have run out of fuel, all the news will scream about is that the FAA let him fly without a medical.

    There are also a few bureaucrats whose rice bowl depends on handling all of those medicals, and not only does ol’ Stan want to keep his job, but ol’ Stan’s buddies want to keep him around, so they’re going to drag their feet on any changes.

    If I were the FAA chief rabbit, I would tell the Congress that such an important issue needs their oversight, and support the bill. This gets the FAA out of the crosshairs of any public outcry, while letting them either get rid of ol’ Stan or reassign him to productive work without being the bad guys.

    • Aleks Udris says


      I think you are spot on – this rule’s impact needs unwavering legislative support.

      But, most importantly….

      Your comment really made me laugh – Thanks!

  5. Laura Hoover says

    I keep reading about AOPA jumping up and down to save Santa Monica airport. There won’t be a need for most GA airports if there aren’t any pilots/plane owners. How many accidents have been attributable to medical incapacitation since the Light Sport rule went into effect? How many for 3rd class medical pilots in the last ten years?
    We ran into Adam Smith and the AOPA crowd with the Caravan an EAA pancake breakfast last summer. I cornered him about the progress and priority of the 3rd class medical petition. He was clearly unhappy with me and wouldn’t give me 3 minutes of his time or an answer.

    This should be AOPA and EAA’s top priority!

    • RudyH says

      Enough to warrant keeping the 3rd, but extending the validity period to four or five years for under 45 age pvt aviators. Same time length for all LSA flyers. Still again, We are not docs, safety will have to precede of saving of funds….

  6. Sarah A says

    Now that congress steps in and is poised to mandate the changes requested in the petition (and then some) suddenly the FAA brings it back up. I say forget pleading to them for a minimal relief and press on with the congressional mandate and its additional freedoms. What the FAA gives they can take away, the congressional mandate is forever and they have no say so.

  7. says

    I imagine that the response went something like this. “Thank you for your interest in (insert subject here). Now go away.”

    Reprising Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine… “We don’t care. We don’t have to.”

    • Jscott says

      Now that Congress is threatening to take action, the FAA finally comes out with a response. “Let’s pretend we care while we continue to do nothing.”

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