Over the holidays, the FAA sent the proposed rule to establish the sport pilot certificate to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—the last step before the FAA can issue the rule. Within 90 days, OMB has to rule whether or not the new rule has any negative economic impacts.
"The single greatest benefit for AOPA members in this proposed rule is the driver's license medical requirement," said AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula. "It means that pilots who are otherwise healthy but unable to obtain an FAA medical certificate will be able to continue flying."
"The driver's license medical is a reasonable and safe standard for both sport and recreational flying," said Cebula. "Only one fifth of one percent of GA accidents were caused by medical issues, and glider pilots have been flying for years without medical certificates or problems."
In its formal comments on the NPRM, AOPA suggested that once FAA has gained experience with sport and recreational pilots flying on a driver's license, the agency should work toward using a driver's license instead of a third class medical certificate for private pilots. This a proposal AOPA has advocated for years.
The sport pilot notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) also contains the parameters for a new category of aircraft to be known as light sport aircraft (LSA). The FAA asked the aircraft industry to develop consensus standards for LSA design, performance, and continuing airworthiness. ASTM International, which specializes in developing industry standards, has developed and approved all the LSA airplane requirements.