As support for the Pilots Bill of Rights 2 (PBR2) continues to grow, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) has taken to the Senate floor to explain key provisions of the measure (see video below).
As of Sept. 25, 67 senators and 140 members of the House of Representatives from both parties had signed on to cosponsor PBR2.
“We’re pleased to see the number of cosponsors continue to rise,” said Jim Coon, senior vice president of government affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). “Tens of thousands of AOPA members have contacted their elected officials and asked them to cosponsor PBR2, and our staff has left no stone unturned when it comes to building support for this legislation. There’s still a lot of work left to do before third-class medical reform becomes a reality, either as part of PBR2 or as an amendment to other legislation, but we are closer than we’ve ever been before to getting this done.”
In his remarks on the Senate floor, Inhofe noted that a decade of experience with the Sport Pilot rule has proven that pilots can fly safely without going through the third-class medical process.
PBR2 was first introduced in the House and Senate in February and has since undergone some revisions to address concerns raised by members of Congress and others. Inhofe addressed those changes in his floor speech, emphasizing that under PBR2 pilots would be spared the hassle of repeatedly going through the third-class medical process.
Under the legislation, thousands of pilots flying a wide range of aircraft would not be required to obtain a third-class medical certificate.
While new pilots would need to obtain FAA medical certification one time in order to establish a benchmark for their health, they would not need to make repeated visits to an FAA aviation medical examiner (AME). Any pilot who has held a valid third-class medical, either regular or special issuance, within the past 10 years, would be considered as having met the initial certification requirement.
Private pilots who have had a heart condition involving surgery, mental, or neurological issues would be required to go through the special issuance process one time only.
In addition, pilots would be required to take an online medical education course every two years. The course would cover a range of aviation medical issues, including the effects of over the counter medications on pilots.
“Requiring pilots to take this course boosts aviation safety for the general aviation community,” Inhofe said.
Pilots also would be required to see their personal physician at least once every four years, make a note of the visit in their logbooks, and certify that they are receiving proper care for any condition requiring medical treatment. As proof that they’ve met the requirement, pilots would need to provide the doctor’s name and address and the date of the exam when they take the online medical course. They would also have to note the information in their logbooks, but would not have to file any paperwork with the FAA. This approach would help foster honest dialogues between pilots and their doctors and ensure that pilots receive the medical care they need, Inhofe said.
The medical exemption created by PBR2 would not change the requirement that pilots self-certify their fitness before every flight. But it would give pilots relief from what Inhofe described as the “constant churn of submitting paperwork over and over,” even when the pilot’s medical status is unchanged.
The modifications to PBR2 outlined by Inhofe in his floor speech closely match the terms of the so-called Manchin Amendment, which was submitted, but did not become part of, the Senate highway bill passed in July. That amendment came under fire from the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which said it would not support the measure, although numerous other pilot groups and unions have endorsed it. Since that time AOPA has met with ALPA to seek common ground.
“We’ve worked with the leaders of ALPA and addressed their safety concerns,” said Coon. “We’ve been told they now believe that third class medical reform does not pose a safety risk.”
Joe Gutierrez says
After patiently waiting these last few years to hear what the people we trusted have come up with in our defense, is utterly insulting to say the least. It seems to me this kind of decision making could of been made in a couple of weeks, not years. We as private pilots seems we never get the gold mine for sure but we sure get the shaft often..not good..
wood eppelsheimer says
Two steps forward and one back.
While I understand the surface politics of the 10 year maximum since the last held FAA medical, if I were a non-flying congressman it would sound like a contradiction of the facts and I would question the legitimacy of the whole concept.
The fact is we self evaluate every time we fly, years of light sport and glider flying prove the concept.
The 10 year lookback is meaningless. It will only serve to deny some older pilots the same rights the rest of us seek and in my view could damage the effort.
Retired Airline ALPA pilot
general aviation active for 45+ years
C J says
Senator Inhofe is the best friend of the GA pilots we have in Congress to date. Carry on sir.
What a disappointment that the bill has been watered down to be practically useless and only a fraction of the original Pilots Bill of Rights. If this is what will become law it is not in the least bit satisfactory.
Chris Libby says
Unfortunately, Inhofe & Baker has stabbed GA in the back. The only people PBOR2 will now benefit are old farts like Baker & Inhofe themselves, who see their medicals on the line in the near future as they get older. Prospective pilots and/or those who have been out of the cockpit for years due to FAA medical bureaucracy will see NO benefit from this ‘reform’, as it still forces you to go through the arduous 3rd class debacle at least once, and all caveats therein. Everyone should be angered about this and make your voice heard.
stuart desbrisay says
Why the 10 year experation of your last medical, nothing was ever mentioned before about this??