House GA Caucus seeks speedy medical reform

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aviation industry has struggled in recent years and would benefit from this move to lower costs and reduce or eliminate outdated practices.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.


  1. Sarah A says

    What we need to do is get some reading on what the FAA is hiding away in their “Private-Pilot Privileges without a Medical” proposed regulation so we know which way to go with applying pressure. If by some miricle P3WAM gives us a reasonable measure of what we need than we can stop wasting time on getting a bill through Congress and apply that pressure to moving the new rule into affect. If it turns out to be a smoke screen to defelect Congressional pressure that we need to come down on them like a ton of bricks and get GAPPA pushed through and on to the presidents desk for signature. Considering how badly Washington leaks critical information related to defenseit would seem that someone could wine/dine/bribe a copy of P3WAM in its current state, at least provide a glimpse so we have an idea what might come of it. OK so it is still subject to revision but we know that that would only degrade it, not improve it so we could see what it offers best case. This is just DOT we are dealing with, not DOD so somewhere there must be some way to get a peek.

    • Tom says

      Exactly and as soon as we get the info you can forget about having to get a medical again even long before everything is approved. Why would they want to enforce “old” rules when they would then be obviously obsolete……….

  2. James Harvey says

    In Oct 2011 I had a telescopic ladder collapse one rung and I fell backwards from a 9 foot roof eave. I struck my head and was unconscious for about 30 seconds. An emergency room visit identified a brain bleed (Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)). Two months later in Dec 2011, based on a follow-up MRI, it was noted no new blood accumulation; however, the original bleed was not resolving itself so a borehole was made in my skull and the blood accumulation removed.
    I never experienced any neurological effects from this TBI yet to renew my Third Class Medical for my private pilot license I must spend thousands of dollars in neurological and cognitive testing to prove to the FAA I am fully capable of returning to flying. Even with this documentation I am not assured that I will not be put into a special status requiring periodic follow-up neurological and cognitive retesting.
    I fully understand the FAA’s concern for a commercial pilot to document no neurological or cognitive deterioration due to a TBI but as a private pilot it is very-very costly for all of this additional testing and documentation.

    • Sarah A says

      This goes back to the heart of the proposal from AOPA/EAA and the GAPPA, if you are sufficently healthy to posess a valid Drivers License than you are fully capable of operating a light aircraft. If you are going to operate a commercial vehicle then there are more specific medical requirements just as there are for Commercial operation of an aircraft. It makes so much sense once you get past the misconceptions that aviation is somehow an endevor that requires one to be in peak physical condition after all we are not going to the Moon, just a weekend trip for a $100 hamburger.

      The bottom line is that no one is going to get in a aircraft if they feel they are not in proper condition that that means medical condition, sufficient sleep, etc. One would have to be suicidal otherwise and the same applies to driving where there are far more dangers presentevery car you pass you were within feet of a deadly head-on collision.

      I always get a chuckle when I read a comment in favor of keeping the 3rd class medical in force, these are obviously young idealistic pilots (?) who are in perfect health. As you get older you start to realize that the sightest of medical problems could be reason for grounding and you develope a much different attitude. Who really wants to dedicate the time and expense to learn how to fly with the knowledge that such trivial matters as a high BMI could throw you into the Twighlight Zone of medical certification and possible permanent grounding.

Leave a Reply

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