September 27, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
The FAA received more than 16,000 comments on the petition by AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association for an exemption that would give pilots who fly recreationally the option of getting a third class medical or instead participating in a recurrent online education program that would educate them how better to self-assess their fitness to fly.
When the comment period closed Sept.14, the volume of participation in the process was indicative of “overwhelming support for the initiative,” said David Oord, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs.
As the FAA studies the issue, AOPA and EAA will continue a dialog with the agency, while urging that a decision be issued as promptly as possible.
“Reducing the barriers to aviation will remain one of AOPA’s top priorities,” Oord said. “One of the goals of the petition was to keep airman aeromedical issues at the forefront of our dialog with the agency.”
Oord extended thanks to all members and pilots who provided comments on the petition. Many of the comments reinforced the associations’ positions laid out in the petition.
Many comments also supported data showing that any benefit gained for medical certification for day-recreational aviation can often come at a substantial cost.
“We feel that education, through an online aeromedical course, coupled with a valid state-issued driver’s license, and a proper self-assessment prior to each flight will increase the level of safety compared to similar operations,” he said. “Far too often, pilots are leaving aviation in response to the costs and lengthy process involved in maintaining a medical certificate.”
“Thank you again to all who commented on the petition; together, you have made your voice heard.”
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
Pilot Health and Medical,
Experimental Aircraft Association
AOPA is calling on its members to take immediate action to build support for new legislation that would reform the third class medical process and provide other protections for general aviation pilots.
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