July 9, 2012
By Sarah Brown
More than 14,000 pilots told the FAA their views on a request that would ease the burden of the third class medical. Now, those who missed the July 2 deadline will have a fresh chance to voice their support.
The first comment period ended July 2 for a request by AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association to allow pilots to fly many common aircraft by completing a medical awareness online course, carrying a driver's license in lieu of a medical certificate, and observing certain limitations. The FAA granted, at the request of both organizations, a new comment period that will give pilots until Sept. 14 to comment on the request.
AOPA and EAA had requested a 70-day extension to give more pilots a chance to weigh in on how the request would help keep pilots flying and contribute to the health of general aviation. AOPA and EAA estimate that the petition for an exemption from the third class medical would likely affect more than 39,000 pilots annually and between 86,664 and 114,333 single-engine piston airplanes.
The requested exemption would allow many pilots to fly fixed-gear aircraft of 180 horsepower or less, with four seats or fewer and up to one passenger, without a medical certificate; they would be limited to day-VFR recreational operations, would be required to complete a free online course about medical conditions and assessing their fitness for flight, something every pilot must do prior to flight, and would carry their driver’s license in place of a third class medical.
Comments in support of the request should describe how pilots evaluate their fitness for flight between medical exams, and how an educational online course would enhance their ability to do so; and explain how reducing the burden of a third class medical certificate would help keep more pilots flying. Find more tips for filing comments in this AOPA/EAA online resource.
Review the AOPA/EAA Guide to the Medical Petition, or consult the frequently asked questions to learn more about the exemption request. You can submit your comments and/or review previously submitted comments at the Regulations.gov website by searching Docket FAA-2012-0350.
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