When the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBOR2) was introduced, much ink (physical and digital) was spilled on the many shortcomings of Senator James Inhofe‘s proposed legislation.
Many complained about the initial limitations of only being able to carry one passenger to no more than 10,000 feet in VFR only conditions using a driver’s license as a medical certificate.
None other than Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) leadership weighed in, very much NOT in favor, with its considerable clout. So Inhofe went back to the legislation, red pen in hand.
The revised PBOR2 was introduced, to much bitching and moaning about the new medical requirements. (Wasn’t PBOR2 supposed to fix that, as in get rid of that requirement?)
Aspiring pilots must take an FAA physical exam that will establish a baseline, then take an online medical course every two years, and see their primary physician every four years (and note the above in their logbooks). Lapsed pilots (those without a medical exam in the last 10 years) will need to take an FAA physical like aspiring pilots, then fall in line with the other requirements.
Not exactly the promised “driver’s license medical,” but clearing a bar — that gets higher with each passing year — once rather than repeatedly seems a decent trade-off.
And if you have a current medical, third-class or special issuance, with passage of this bill, you’ll be able to jump in line without taking another medical exam…EVER.
Lost in the medical exam dust-up is the changes to three facets of PBOR2. First, the legislation expands the passenger count to five. Initially, the limit was one. Second, the altitude limit increases to 18,000 feet rather than the initial 10,000 feet. Third, both VFR and IFR flight are allowed, as opposed to VFR only.
Those are significant changes, to the positive, regardless of your opinion of the medical exam portion.
“With 69 cosponsors in the Senate, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 has strong support among lawmakers who recognize the importance of general aviation and the need to give pilots relief from the costly and burdensome third-class medical process,” said Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) President Mark Baker.
“That’s a filibuster-proof super majority in the Senate,” said Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chairman Jack Pelton in the November issue of Sport Aviation.
If you were hoping to hop back in the cockpit after an extended absence with just your driver’s license in your pocket, I’m sorry. That’s not going to happen with this legislation.
But if you’ve got nothing to fear medically, clear that exam bar ONE TIME and enjoy a lifetime of flying. And who knows what PBOR3 will look like?
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a markup session for PBOR2 on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Make sure your senators (and representatives) know your feelings.