AOPA leads effort to speed medical reform

August 18, 2014

Editor's Note: AOPA has updated the amount of savings that could be achieved for pilots each year if the FAA changed the third class medical process.

In an AOPA-led effort, seven influential general aviation organizations are asking the Department of Transportation and the administration to expedite a review of the FAA’s proposed rulemaking on third class medical reform.

In an Aug. 15 letter, the associations urge Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to complete the review of the FAA notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) within the next 30 days and open the proposal for public comment.

“The FAA has moved far too slowly on medical reform,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “This is a top priority for our members and we will do absolutely everything in our power to get the government moving and keep them moving. We’re working with friends in Congress and with the GA industry to make sure pilots get relief as soon as possible, and we will keep pushing until we get results.”

In their letter, the industry groups noted that pilots spend $140 million a year obtaining medical certificates. AOPA estimates that changing the third class medical process could save pilots as much as $40 million a year and the FAA more than $1 million a year—money that could be reinvested in ways that do much more to enhance safety, including increased proficiency flying and installing advanced safety equipment in aircraft. 

The letter also notes that the FAA first recognized that pilots did not need a third class medical certificate to fly safely a decade ago when it instituted the standard for sport pilots. And the industry is now in the process of developing a comprehensive online education course to ensure that pilots have the information needed to self-assess their fitness to fly. That, paired with an open and honest relationship with a primary care doctor, will enhance pilot safety, the groups wrote.

In addition to Baker, the letter was signed by the leaders of the Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, and National Business Aviation Association.

Elizabeth Tennyson

Elizabeth A Tennyson | Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications, AOPA

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.