Thirty-two members of the U.S. House of Representatives General Aviation Caucus are asking the Department of Transportation to speed up the review of an FAA proposal to reform the third-class medical process.
In an Aug. 22 letter, the caucus members urged Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to have his agency complete its review of the FAA notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) within the next 30 days. That review must be completed before the NPRM can be opened for public comment.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and six other general aviation organizations made a similar call earlier this month for a 30-day review and fast action on medical reform.
“The general aviation community is tired of the FAA dragging its feet when it comes to medical reform,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Members of the General Aviation Caucus recognize how important this issue is to the future of general aviation, and we appreciate their willingness to work alongside AOPA and the GA industry to keep this moving.”
The letter points out that those flying under the Sport Pilot rule have successfully operated without the need for a third-class medical certificate for more than a decade and that the FAA has had ample time to study the issue.
“For the past two-and-a-half years, the FAA has extensively reviewed this issue and enthusiastic pilots in our congressional districts have become frustrated with the lack of progress on reform,” the letter states.
It also notes that the general aviation industry has struggled in recent years and would benefit from this move to lower costs and reduce or eliminate outdated practices.
In addition to Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Rep. Jon Barrow (D-Georgia), the letter was signed by Reps. Richard Hanna (R-New York), Walter B. Jones (R-North Carolina), Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Billy Long (R-Missouri), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Vicky Hartzler (R- Missouri), Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri), Rodney Davis (R-Illinois), Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), Grace Napolitano (D-California), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota), Richard Nolan (D-Minnesota), Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), Howard Coble (R-North Carolina), Todd Rokita (R-Indiana), Tony Cardenas (D-California), Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana), Reid Ribble (R-Wisconsin), Chris Collins (R-New York), Tim Griffin (R-Arkansas), Daniel Lipinski (D-Illinois), Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin), Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Lou Barletta (R-Pennsylvania).
Previously, AOPA and EAA jointly filed a petition with the FAA to expand the number of pilots who can fly without a third-class medical certificate. When the FAA allowed the AOPA-EAA petition to languish for more than two years, AOPA turned to friends in Congress for help.
On Dec. 11, 2013, 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.
Original GAPPA sponsors Reps . Graves and Rokita recently sent a similar letter urging Foxx to act swiftly, as did Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).
At the same time, thousands of pilots have contacted their congressional representatives in Washington and signed an AOPA traveling petition in support of third-class medical reform.