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FAA wants to extend the life of medical certificates for younger pilots

FAA wants to extend the life of medical certificates for younger pilots

Good news for younger pilots: The FAA is proposing to lengthen the duration of certain medical certificates. For pilots under age 40, the duration of third class medicals would go from the current three years to five years, and first class certificates would go from six months to one year.

There are indirect benefits for all pilots as well.

Since 1979, AOPA has supported such extensions in medical certificates. The last major change to pilot medical standards occurred in 1996 when the FAA extended the duration of third class medicals from two to three years for pilots in the under-40 age bracket.

"This is indeed good news from the FAA," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "Coupled with knowledge gained from the 'driver's license' standard for sport pilots and advancements in medical treatments in general, it should allow the FAA to make other changes beneficial to members in the future."

In its comments to the 1996 proposal, AOPA fought hard to support younger pilots while preventing discrimination against older pilots. The association, meanwhile, is continuing to push for the use of a driver's license in lieu of a medical certificate for those exercising recreational pilot privileges.

"There is abundant information supporting the argument that serious medical pathology is not prevalent in younger pilots," said Gary Crump, AOPA's director of medical certification. "Accident data analysis since the 1996 reform bears this out."

The current proposal would mean less paperwork for the FAA to process. That way the medical review staff could concentrate more on deferred medical applications, which would presumably speed up medical certificate processing and special issuance authorizations.

Once the proposal is enacted, a pilot could apply for a third class medical up to one day before his fortieth birthday. His certificate would then be good for 60 calendar months.

The comment deadline for proposal is June 11.

April 11, 2007

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