FREDERICK, MD – The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate’s passage of FAA reauthorization legislation which includes third-class medical reform as well as provisions to increase Airport Improvement Program funding, streamline certification for light general aviation aircraft, support a transition to unleaded aviation fuel, and make it easier to install modern safety equipment in legacy aircraft.
“This is a solid bill for general aviation,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “The third-class medical reform language goes far beyond the AOPA-EAA 2012 petition and means that hundreds of thousands of pilots will never need another FAA medical exam. Getting these reforms is vital to the entire general aviation community. Add to that the fact that there are no user fees for general aviation in this bill and there are provisions to continue research into unleaded fuels and increase grants for improvements to GA airports, and it’s all good news for GA.”
Baker went on to note that the FAA reauthorization bill marks the second time in five months that the Senate has passed bipartisan third-class medical reform.
“There are now several bills in the House of Representatives that will get third-class medical reform across the finish line thanks to the leadership of our members and Senators Thune, Inhofe, Manchin, Boozman, and Nelson,” Baker said.
Under the bill, most pilots who have had a regular or special issuance third-class medical within 10 years of enactment will never need to see an aviation medical examiner again. Should a pilot develop certain specific cardiac, mental health, or neurological conditions, they will only have to get an FAA special issuance medical once.
Compared to the earlier third-class medical petition, the legislation would allow pilots to fly 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.
“I am grateful for the strong and consistent voice of AOPA members who shared why third-class medical reform is necessary, said Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). “I want to thank Mark Baker, the President of AOPA, and his team for their leadership and support from the beginning.”