July 2 deadline looms for driver's license medical effort

June 28, 2012

The opportunity to fly venerable aircraft like the Cessna 172 or Piper Archer during day-VFR conditions with one passenger by completing a medical awareness online course and carrying a driver’s license in lieu of a medical certificate is motivating thousands of pilots to take action and expand their flying years.

Nearly 10,000 pilots have commented on the AOPA and Experimental Aircraft Association’s petition for exemption to the third class medical certificate—that according to the federal docket as of June 25. The goal is to allow pilots to complete an educational online course about medical conditions and self-assessing their fitness for flight, something each aviator is required to do prior to flight. Then, they would be able to use their driver’s license instead of a third class medical certificate in order to fly certain aircraft under specified conditions. This would decrease the burden and expense many face with getting their third class medical certificate, and it could encourage more pilots to get back in the air, helping the struggling industry.

The exemption would allow pilots to fly during the day in VFR conditions in single-engine aircraft with a 180 horsepower or less, four seats or fewer, and fixed landing gear. The operations also would be limited to carrying one passenger. This allows pilots to continue flying aircraft with which they are already familiar instead of transitioning to lighter aircraft under the sport pilot rule.

Take action

Do your part to support the exemption by filing comments before the July 2 deadline. Comments should include your pilot certification level, hours flown, and background; your support for the exemption; how you assess your fitness for flight each time you go flying; what you do to continue to improve your safety as a pilot; and how removing the third class medical burden for certain operations will help the industry by getting more pilots back in the air.

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.

Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Miller | AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Miller has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.