Third class medical reform is critical to growing general aviation, AOPA President Mark Baker told the House General Aviation Caucus during a briefing June 17.
The briefing focused on current aviation policy and included Baker and leaders of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Air Transportation Association, and National Business Aviation Association.
The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act is vitally important to growing the pilot community because it will save money and time, and free pilots from an outdated and cumbersome medical certification process, Baker told the group. He urged the GA Caucus members who have not already done so to sign up to co-sponsor the bill, which already has 117 House co-sponsors.
Under the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, pilots who make noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats would be exempt from the third class medical certification process. Pilots would be allowed to carry up to five passengers, fly at altitudes below 14,000 feet msl, and fly no faster than 250 knots. The FAA would be required to report on the safety consequences of the new rule after five years.
AOPA members Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), a member of the House General Aviation Caucus, and GA Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) introduced the bill in December 2013. Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), all members of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, introduced an identical measure in the Senate on March 11. The Senate measure has 15 co-sponsors.
The briefing also covered the need for streamlining the FAA certification process for aircraft, helicopter noise issues, GA security, and the threat of user fees.
Baker told the caucus that user fees are a major contributor to the high cost of flying in Europe and a primary reason why GA activity there is so much lower than in the United States. He added that the fuel tax system used in the United States is efficient and effective without stifling GA activity.