Efforts to move medical reform legislation through Congress continue as support for the measure, known as the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, continues to grow in the House and Senate.
The most recent lawmakers to join the growing list of Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 cosponsors are Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), who became the 146th cosponsor in the House on Oct. 20, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R- N.H.), who chairs the Senate Aviation Subcommittee and became the sixty-eighth Senate cosponsor on Oct. 21.
“That means we have fully one-third of the House of Representatives signed on as cosponsors, plus a supermajority in the Senate,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “While there are no guarantees, that’s a strong showing of bipartisan support for third class medical reform.”
AOPA leaders have reiterated their commitment to keep pushing for medical reform until pilots get much-needed relief, and they recognize that pilots are impatient to see the bill passed.
“We are working this issue every single day to get the very best deal we can for pilots, and we’re doing everything in our power to get it done as quickly as possible. We’re closer than ever before and we’re hopeful that we’ll see meaningful movement on this legislation before the end of the year,” said Coon.
Since the legislation was first introduced in February, some compromise changes have been made to the bill in order to win the support needed to keep the legislation alive. Although AOPA and others fought hard to eliminate the need for visits to an aviation medical examiner altogether, current language in the bill would allow most pilots, including many of those requiring a special issuance medical, to visit an AME just once in their flying careers.
“It’s not a driver’s license standard like we have in sport pilot but under the current proposal the majority of general aviation pilots would, at most, only need to see an AME one time. In fact, the 10-year reach-back provision is estimated to capture nearly 300,000 pilots who will never have to see an AME again,” said Coon. “Private pilots who have been diagnosed with mental or neurological conditions, or who have had a heart attack or open heart surgery, would have to go through the special issuance process one time.
“Pilots self-assess their fitness before every flight, and we want to foster the pilot-physician relationship and get government bureaucracy out of the way. Relying on a pilot-physician relationship along with only having one FAA required medical exam over the course of a flying career will ensure a healthier and safer general aviation community and it will ultimately save the aviation community hundreds of millions of dollars.”
To help pilots understand the current status of the legislation, AOPA and EAA have joined together to answer some of their members’ most common questions about third class medical reform.