The FAA wants to spend $289,000 of your money on what will be a statistically invalid survey of "pilot satisfaction" with its aeromedical certification services, according to AOPA.
"What an extraordinary waste of resources, particularly at a time when the FAA is saying it's running out of money and needs to control costs," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We've already done the surveys and given the results - and the solutions - to the FAA for free.
"AOPA members are extraordinarily dissatisfied with the processing delays in Oklahoma City. And the solution is to allow designated aviation medical examiners to directly certify more pilots with low-risk conditions, rather than having to defer the decision to the FAA."
The proposed FAA survey would go to some 16,000 pilots who have recently applied for a medical certificate. But AOPA's own survey and statistical experts, after reviewing the proposed survey distribution, determined that the agency could expect perhaps 80 responses from pilots who had had direct dealings with the FAA's medical certification branch.
"That's not nearly enough responses to obtain the 95 percent confidence level the FAA wants for this survey," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy. "So not only is the survey unneeded, the data that FAA gets will be flawed."
In a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which must approve the FAA's survey, AOPA pointed out the flaws in the proposed study.
AOPA also renewed its recommendations for reducing the delays in processing special issuance medical certificates. Those delays can now exceed five months, causing a serious hardship for pilots and aircraft owners.
"The FAA should modify its certification policy for certain medical conditions and expand the Aviation Medical Examiner Assisted Special Issuance (AASI) program to include other low-risk pathologies," AOPA told the OMB. "These changes will reduce the backlog of medical review cases, which accounts for most pilots' dissatisfaction with FAA medical certification services."
"AOPA and the FAA know that these delays in medical certification is where the problem resides," said Gutierrez. "Another survey is not needed to tell us that."
September 8, 2005