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Huerta: FAA will finalize third class medical ruleHuerta: FAA will finalize third class medical rule

The FAA will move quickly to implement third class medical reform, streamline aircraft certification standards, and allow more modern safety equipment into general aviation aircraft, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said July 28.

During prepared remarks and a wide-ranging question-and-answer session at EAA AirVenture 2016, Huerta said the agency is on track to finalize third class medical regulations within 180 days as directed by Congress and implement them in one year.

“I’ve assembled a dedicated team,” he said. “We’re going to meet the deadline that Congress laid out.”

The FAA’s years-long effort to streamline aircraft certification standards will be complete by the end of 2016, he said. That process, known as the Part 23 rewrite, replaces decades-old procedural standards with new “risk-based” assessments.

“The new framework defines safety outcomes,” Huerta said. “There’s more than one way to deliver on safety.”

The “transformational” new approach is designed to encourage flexibility and innovation among aircraft manufacturers.

For the legacy GA fleet, the FAA's recent approvals of Garmin’s G5 electronic flight instrument and Dynon's D10A attitude indicator are likely to pave the way for other non-TSO avionics in standard category airplanes.

Huerta said these “potentially lifesaving technologies,” which until now have been limited to experimental aircraft, are available at “lower cost and offer higher levels of safety” than the mechanical instruments they replace.

Huerta became FAA administrator in 2013, and this is his fifth annual appearance at the world's largest aviation gathering. Previous question-and-answer sessions have sometimes been testy with pilots questioning Huerta’s commitment to third class medical reform, aircraft modernization, and other issues important to GA pilots.

This time the atmosphere was much, much more welcoming, and many questioners praised the administrator for the FAA’s willingness to adopt changes they’ve long sought. They also praised the FAA’s new “compliance” philosophy that emphasizes non-punitive education and counseling to pilots who make airspace or other blunders rather than certificate revocations or suspensions.

Huerta prodded aircraft owners to install Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out equipment before the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline and take advantage of the FAA’s $500 rebate program; he reiterated that the installation deadline is firm and will not budge.

ADS-B is a satellite-based air traffic control system that can give pilots in-cockpit weather and traffic alerts.

“There’s no better time to get off the sidelines and start enjoying the benefits of ADS-B,” he said.

Dave Hirschman

Dave Hirschman

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Topics: EAA AirVenture, Medical Reform

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