The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has set Nov. 18 as the date to move the Pilot's Bill of Rights 2 (S. 571). Third class medical reform is among the provisions in the legislation designed to help general aviation pilots.
“This is a very significant step forward in our efforts to bring long overdue common sense to the third class medical process. We’ve never been closer, and we are very pleased that this bill is going to get the consideration it deserves,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “With 69 cosponsors in the Senate, the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 has strong support among lawmakers who recognize the importance of general aviation and the need to give pilots relief from the costly and burdensome third class medical process. That high level of bipartisan support is a testament to the commitment and engagement of the tens of thousands of AOPA members who have contacted their elected officials and asked them to support third class medical reform.”
The Pilot's Bill of Rights 2, which was sponsored by Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.), would allow hundreds of thousands of pilots who have held a valid third class medical, either regular or special issuance, over the past 10 years to fly without needing to get another FAA medical exam. It would apply to pilots flying VFR or IFR in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds and carrying up to five passengers at altitudes below 18,000 feet msl and speeds up to 250 knots.
For pilots whose medical certificate lapsed more than 10 years ago and those who have never held a medical certificate, a one-time medical certification will be required. Once a pilot has been medically certified once, either through the regular or special-issuance process, he or she will also be able to fly indefinitely without needing to go through the FAA medical certification process again. Pilots with certain medical factors, including cardiac surgery, mental, or neurological conditions, will have to get a special issuance medical one time only. For more information, visit AOPA’s frequently asked questions regarding third class medical reform.
“We know how important medical reform is to pilots,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “The fact that this legislation is continuing to move forward at a time when Congress is dealing with so many challenging issues is an indication of how active AOPA members have been in keeping medical reform on the table and the effectiveness of their letters, emails, and phone calls to lawmakers.”
Once the markup in committee is complete, the legislation can go to the full Senate for a vote. Similar legislation also has been introduced in the House. Both chambers must pass the bill and reconcile any differences before it can go the president for his signature.