Extended-duration medical certificates a good move, AOPA says

June 14, 2007

Extended-duration medical certificates a good move, AOPA says

Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application

First class medical: Good for a year. Third class medical: Good for five years.

Sound too good to be true? It's in the works.

AOPA is supporting an FAA proposal to extend the first class and third class medical certificates to pilots under age 40. But the association is going a step further. In formal comments to the FAA, AOPA requested additional research to possibly grant that extension to pilots over 40 as well.

"Research might indicate that the age for an extension can be increased beyond 40 without negatively impacting general aviation pilots' safety," said Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs.

According to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's accident and incident database, medical factors contribute to only 1.9 percent of accidents.

In 2005, there were only three pilot medical incapacitation accidents (two heart attacks and one carbon monoxide poisoning), according to the foundation's 2006 Joseph T. Nall Report .

"A strong argument may be made that these accidents were not attributable to conditions that could have been identified or predicted by a periodic FAA physical examination," Hackman wrote.

In its comments, AOPA also requested that the FAA grant "driver's license" medicals to recreational pilots. The association has advocated for this for decades, and it would allow pilots to self-certify that they were fit to fly. This is the same method the FAA currently allows for sport pilots.

June 14, 2007