Keep flying: Free online course, no AME

December 6, 2011

Imagine if every time you completed a biennial flight review you also took a free online course about medical self-certification that allowed you to continue flying—using your driver's license as the baseline of health.

That could become a reality if the FAA accepts a request that would allow pilots to use their driver’s license and medical self-certification to fly aircraft of 180 horsepower or less and carry one passenger. AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association are working to extend the driver’s license medical from sport pilot privileges to include pilots flying recreationally in slightly larger aircraft.

In order to use a driver’s license, AOPA and EAA are proposing that pilots would have to complete a medical self-certification online course every 24 calendar months in addition to determining that they are medically fit before every flight. To make it easy to remember to take the course, pilots could align it with their flight review dates.

The online course, which would be developed by the Air Safety Institute, would be open to all pilots and explain the self-certification steps along with the pilot’s responsibilities associated with certifying fitness for flight.

“Pilots visit the aviation medical examiner every six months to five years, depending on the class of medical and age of the pilot. The rest of the time they self-certify prior to each flight that they are medically qualified,” said Kristine Hartzell, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs. “This would follow the same principle, using a driver’s license, completion of the online course, and self-certification in lieu of the medical certificate.”