The Department of Transportation (DOT) wants ideas for rules that are no longer needed. AOPA has one - no more FAA medicals for recreational pilots. And in a recent survey, a majority of AOPA members supported that change as well. In a formal recommendation to the DOT, AOPA requested that the agency direct the FAA to allow the use of a valid U.S. driver's license in lieu of an FAA medical when exercising recreational pilot privileges.
"An analysis of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Accident and Incident database reveals an extremely low number - 1.9 percent - of accidents have any medical factors contributing to the accident," AOPA said in comments to the DOT. "Medical incapacitation is not a significant cause of accidents, whether or not a medical certificate is required."
But supporting the "driver's license medical" is not a new stance for the association. AOPA recommended self-certification (making the pilot responsible for determining if he were medically fit to fly) as part of its proposal for the recreational pilot certificate, initiated in 1978. While the FAA ultimately accepted AOPA's proposal for the certificate designed to reduce the cost and procedural barriers to flight training, it did not accept the idea of a "driver's license medical."
Until sport pilot came along. With that, the FAA finally bought AOPA's arguments that a medical certificate does little to prevent accidents. In fact, the few accidents caused by medical incapacitation were not attributable to conditions that could have been uncovered or predicted by medical examination. In its sport pilot final rule, the FAA said that "medical conditions are not a significant cause of accidents in aircraft that are used for sport and recreational purposes."
So AOPA says the federal government should take the next logical step and extend the "driver's license medical" to pilots exercising sport and recreational pilot privileges.
March 31, 2005