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AME urges his senators to back medical reform

An aviation medical examiner and pilot who leads the Minnesota Pilots Association has called on his state’s two U.S. senators to join a majority of their colleagues in co-sponsoring the Pilot's Bill of Rights 2 and third class medical reform.

The proposed reforms that would allow many pilots to self-certify their fitness for flight instead of having to apply for a third class medical certificate to fly recreationally are "critically necessary" to aviation, and will not jeopardize safety, said Randle S. Corfman, president of the 300-member Minnesota Pilots Association in a letter to Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.

Corfman, a 4,500-hour pilot, emphasized his more than 10 years of service as an aviation medical examiner in his Aug.10 letter to the senators.

"It is my experience that the pilots I examine self-ground appropriately and simply do not fly with unsafe medical conditions, and I feel strongly that the sport pilot aviation experience confirms that fact," he wrote. Sport pilots can fly light sport aircraft on the basis of a valid driver’s license without holding an FAA medical certificate, and the position Corfman is advocating  is widely shared by general aviation community members including the Flying Physicians Association and the AOPA Medical Advisory Board.

In an AOPA Live interview with reporter and producer Paul Harrop, Corfman said the vast majority of pilots he has examined are "very health-wise" people who watch their diets, do not smoke, and find ways to relieve stress.

He expressed concern that some medical examiners—including some whose practices depend on performing aviation medical examinations—have depicted the medical-reform issue in a negative light. Corfman countered that there is "not a shred of evidence" to support medical opposition to the bill sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and approximately 55 other co-sponsors, as of the Senate’s August recess.

"Given the light sport aircraft experience, I don’t know how a rational physician could look at that information and come up with the conclusion that there is something very negative about to happen if this legislation passes," Corfman told Harrop.

Corfman, who uses his aircraft for travel related to his seven-state medical practice, reiterated his "belief and conviction" that medical reform is a critical element in bolstering aviation in Minnesota and across the nation, as AOPA and other aviation associations are working hard to accomplish for their members.  

The groups are "trying to get us in the air, and keep us in the air," he said in the interview.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Pilot Health and Medical Certification, Light Sport Aircraft, Training and Safety

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