August 29, 2012
By Jim Moore
For pilots yet to weigh in on an effort to reduce the burden of medical certification, the deadline is approaching and every voice counts. The FAA has collected more than 15,000 comments to date on the joint AOPA and EAA petition to exempt from the third-class medical requirement pilots who command a range of small aircraft (with fixed gear, 180 horsepower or less, four seats or fewer, and no more than one passenger), during daytime VFR, informed by online training in medical self-assessment and carrying a driver’s license.
The associations estimate that about 39,000 pilots would be able to exercise such an option annually, and the exemption, if granted, would potentially affect between 86,664 and 114,333 aircraft. The FAA granted a request to extend the comment period through Sept. 14, following a flood of responses to the initial 20-day comment period which closed in July.
The associations have made a case that safety would be enhanced by allowing pilots to continue operating aircraft they are familiar with, and also by providing detailed training in medical self-assessment through an online course. AOPA and EAA have compiled an online resource page with information on crafting effective comments, and links to submit comments online. Answers to frequently asked questions are also a click away.
Pilots surveyed at EAA AirVenture 2012 in Oshkosh, Wis., expressed overwhelming support for the petition, with 94 percent of 3,001 survey respondents backing the petition as submitted.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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