WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FAA is moving ahead with the rulemaking process to possibly expand the number of pilots eligible to fly without the need for a third-class medical certificate.
This is in response to a petition from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).The two associations filed a petition with the FAA some two years ago.
FAA is calling the rulemaking effort the “Private Pilot Privileges Without a Medical Certificate” project. It will consider whether to allow private pilots fly without a third-class medical certificate in certain circumstances. Instead of a medical ,pilots will be able to use other criteria, including a valid driver’s license. The FAA announced no other details of the planned action.
As part of the announcement, FAA said it will consider whether it can “safely provide any relief to the medical requirement before the rulemaking process is complete.”
More than 16,000 comments about the no-medical proposal were received by the FAA, most of which were positive, according to FAA officials.
EAA and AOPA were quick to express their pleasure at the FAA’s announcement.
EAA officials called this move to formal rulemaking “a good initial step” and said it supports any initiatives to modernize the aviation medical certification system for recreational flying.
For decades EAA has made numerous petitions and requests to the FAA to extend medical self-certification to more of the pilot population.
AOPA President Mark Baker called the rulemaking announcement “the next important step along a path that we sincerely hope will allow more pilots to fly without the expense and frustration of the medical certification process.”
He added he made pursuing the medical exemption a top priority when he took over as president of AOPA.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association also quickly commended the FAA for the move. Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the association, said he wants “to applaud the FAA for undertaking the rulemaking effort.”
He also added appreciation to members of Congress for pushing the issue to the forefront.
Legislation in Congress has been gaining support from many legislators in both the House and Senate.