April 10, 2014
By Elizabeth A Tennyson
The Michigan Aeronautics Commission is asking the FAA and the state’s congressional delegation to get behind the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, legislation that would allow thousands more pilots to fly without needing a third class medical certificate.
In letters sent to the FAA administrator and each of the state’s senators and representatives on April 2, the Michigan Aeronautics Commission says it is joining AOPA and other general aviation organizations in supporting the legislation and asks decision makers to offer their support as well.
“The Michigan Aeronautics Commission urges your vote of support for this important legislation that will benefit Michigan pilots currently required to hold this certificate and remove an unnecessary regulatory burden from small general aviation pilots in an effort to help invigorate that portion of the aviation industry,” says the letter to the state’s congressional delegation.
The letters also note that general aviation is the only form of transportation that requires medical certification for recreational or private use, and that the certification process can be both expensive and time consuming.
The letter comes as the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act is gaining momentum in the House and Senate. The legislation, which was first introduced by AOPA members Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), a member of the House General Aviation Caucus, and GA Caucus Co-Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.), now has 93 cosponsors, including Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). Identical legislation introduced in last month by General Aviation Caucus members Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) now has nine cosponsors.
Under the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, pilots who make noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats would be exempt from the third class medical certification process. Pilots would be allowed to carry up to five passengers, fly at altitudes below 14,000 feet msl, and fly no faster than 250 knots. The FAA would be required to report on the safety consequences of the new rule after five years.
“We appreciate the support of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission for this important legislation,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “Thousands of AOPA members have contacted their senators and representatives to ask them to cosponsor this legislation and we hope more state aviation organizations will do the same.”
Since the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act was introduced, the FAA announced that it will pursue rulemaking on the third class medical, although no details of that proposal have yet been released. The FAA action comes more than two years after AOPA and EAA filed a joint petition seeking to expand the third class medical exemption to more pilots.
Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.
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