FAA eases special issuance burden

March 22, 2012

Starting July 20, pilots who have a medical certificate with a special issuance authorization will no longer need to carry the separate authorization letter with them in the aircraft. It’s a small change in the regulations, but it’s designed to ease the document-carrying requirement for the 28,000 pilots who already endure the extra burden and expense of obtaining a special issuance.

“The FAA continues to receive complaints from affected U.S. pilots that the full force of the requirement is overly burdensome as well as invasive,” the agency wrote in its explanation of why it is rescinding the requirement to carry the letter of authorization.

The requirement to carry the letter of authorization with the special issuance medical certificate went into effect in 2008 after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) cited the FAA in a 2007 audit regarding its endorsements of certificates. The FAA’s response to come into compliance with ICAO standards was to require pilots flying with a special issuance medical certificate to also carry their letter of authorization, which “provides information regarding conditions affected individuals must meet in order to exercise pilot privileges.” Individuals would need to produce both the medical certificate and the letter of authorization if requested by civil aviation authorities.

In 2010, the FAA informed ICAO that it wanted to remove the requirement and received no objection. After three years of the requirement being in effect, the FAA says it has not learned of any pilots being requested to produce the documentation. Because of that, and no objection from ICAO, the FAA is removing the requirement.

After July 20 special issuance medical certificates will no longer carry the “Note” section under “Conditions of Use,” but pilots who currently have a special issuance medical certificate with the notation will not be required to obtain a new one. It can be replaced at the time of the normal special issuance certificate renewal.

The FAA is accepting comments on this final rule through May 21; comments can be submitted online and should identify “Docket Number FAA-2012-0056.”