Seventeen aviation groups have sent a joint letter to leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, urging them to pass third class medical reform and other measures designed to protect general aviation pilots.
In the Nov. 16 letter, AOPA and others urged the committee to adopt the Manchin Amendment to the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 (PBR2), which is scheduled to be considered by the committee later in the week. Other amendments to PBR2 will also be considered at that time.
Noting that third class medical reform is a pivotal issue for the future of general aviation, the aviation groups told the committee that the “FAA’s medical certification system has evolved into an onerous and costly one. The FAA recognized that fact more than 10 years ago when it created the Sport Pilot standard of medical certification.”
The letter went on to note that proposed third class medical reforms could save pilots more than $20 million each year and save the FAA approximately $2.5 million each year.
“We have never been closer to achieving meaningful third class medical reform, and this letter is indicative of the widespread support this measure enjoys in the general aviation community,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Pilots want and need relief from the outdated and unreasonably burdensome third class medical process, and this legislation would allow hundreds of thousands of pilots to fly safely while saving them, and the FAA, both time and money.”
In addition to promoting third class medical reforms, the Manchin Amendment includes reforms to the FAA’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) program, which ensures pilots receive critical safety information as part of their preflight preparation, and provides protections to volunteer pilots who fly in the public interest.
The letter supporting the amendment was signed by AOPA and the Academy of Model Aeronautics, Allied Pilots Association, Commemorative Air Force, Experimental Aircraft Association, Flying Dentists Association, Flying Physicians Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, International Council of Air Shows, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Air Transportation Association, National Business Aviation Association, NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots, Recreational Aviation Foundation, and Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has set Nov. 18 as the date to move S. 571, better known as PBR2. The legislation, which was sponsored by Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.), boasts 69 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate.
It 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 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 processes, 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 some cardiac, psychological, 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.