Time running out to support medical exemption

FAA gives 20 days, pilots urged to act

June 12, 2012

The FAA opened its official comment period June 12 for an exemption to third class medical certificate regulations filed jointly by AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Supporters have only 20 days—until July 2—to submit comments, which is shorter than the usual 30- or 60-day period established for comments.

“We urge those who have not commented on our exemption request to do so within the 20-day timeframe, because this request opens an important discussion about creating more possibilities to participate in aviation while maintaining a high safety standard,” said Robert Hackman, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “Now is the time to make your voice heard on this important initiative.”

AOPA and EAA chose the exemption route for the third class medical certificate due to the amount of time it takes to get a rulemaking package through the entire regulatory process. The model for the exemption is the successful sport pilot self-certification initiative that was approved in 2004. Thanks to that initiative, the industry has tangible data from the sport pilot experience showing that medical self-certification in this segment does not diminish aviation safety. Currently no sport pilot accidents have been shown to be associated with medical incapacitation.

Pilots visiting the AOPA Tent at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, Fla., in April had the chance to weigh in on the proposed exemption. Of the more than 4,000 surveyed during the show, 97 percent expressed support for the exemption. It has also already received nearly 2,000 comments via the federal Regulations.gov website since being submitted on March 20.

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.