AOPA Director of Regulatory and Certification Affairs Luis Gutierrez told a group of Florida pilots recently that of all the changes coming with the sport pilot rule, the use of a driver's license to satisfy medical requirements is probably the single most significant. Gutierrez had been invited to speak by the local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport near Orlando, Fla.
The reduced training regimen necessary to receive a sport pilot certificate is certainly attractive to pilots," said Gutierrez. "But our members tell us that the ability to demonstrate their physical fitness to fly based solely on having a driver's license is far more important to them."
Gutierrez was joined by Ron Wagner of EAA, who talked to the pilots about the light sport aircraft portion of the proposed rule. AOPA is an active participant in the process of drafting the light sport aircraft regulations.
AOPA has long been a proponent of allowing pilots to use a driver's license to satisfy medical requirements. Shortly after the FAA published its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding sport pilot, AOPA urged the agency to also allow current recreational pilots to use a "driver's license medical." "AOPA believes that such a rule could help many pilots with lapsed third class medical certificates get back into aviation," said Gutierrez.
The FAA responded that it is premature to consider including recreational pilot operations.