Seven influential general aviation organizations are asking the Department of Transportation to expedite a review of the FAA’s proposed rulemaking on third-class medical reform.
In an August 15 letter, the associations urged Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to complete its review of the FAA notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) within the next 30 days and open the proposal for public comment.
“The FAA has moved far too slowly on medical reform,” said Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President Mark Baker. “This is a top priority for our members and we will do absolutely everything in our power to get the government moving and keep them moving. We’re working with friends in Congress and with the GA industry to make sure pilots get relief as soon as possible, and we will keep pushing until we get results.”
In their letter, the industry groups noted that changing the third-class medical process could save pilots as much as $140 million a year and the FAA more than $1 million a year—money that could be reinvested in ways that do much more to enhance safety, including increased proficiency flying and installing advanced safety equipment in aircraft.
The letter also notes that the FAA first recognized that pilots do not need a third-class medical certificate to fly safely a decade ago when it instituted the standard for sport pilots. And the industry is now in the process of developing a comprehensive online education course to ensure that pilots have the information needed to self-assess their fitness to fly. That, paired with an open and honest relationship with a primary care doctor, will enhance pilot safety, the groups wrote.
In addition to AOPA’s Baker, the letter was signed by the leaders of the Experimental Aircraft Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, the National Agricultural Aviation Association, the National Air Transportation Association and the National Business Aviation Association.
More than two-and-a-half years ago, AOPA and EAA 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, 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.
Thousands of AOPA members and other pilots have contacted their congressional representatives in Washington and signed an AOPA traveling petition in support of third-class medical reform.
“We are committed to seeing medical reform for our members and the entire aviation community,” said Baker. “Medical reform will save money, enhance safety, and get more people flying. That’s good for pilots now, and it’s critical for the future of the general aviation industry.”