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Defense bill includes medical reform language

Third class medical reform will once again go to the full Senate for a vote, this time as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The Senate has already approved third class medical reform language from the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 twice in the past five months—first as standalone legislation and then as part of the Senate’s FAA reauthorization bill.

The Senate Armed Services Committee on May 13 approved the National Defense Authorization Act, including third class medical reform language from the Pilot's Bill of Rights 2, by a vote of 23 to 3. The full Senate is expected to take up the measure later this month.

“This is great news for general aviation,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Third class medical reform is vital to our community, and it has widespread bipartisan support. We applaud Senator James Inhofe and the Senate Armed Services Committee for taking action to update an unreasonably cumbersome system that costs pilots millions of dollars and countless hours while doing little or nothing to improve safety.”

Inhofe (R-Okla.), who introduced the Pilot's Bill of Rights 2 and has championed its adoption by the Senate, expressed appreciation for AOPA’s consistent support of the legislation.

“Including the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 in the National Defense Authorization Act demonstrates the commitment of the Senate to getting third class medical reform passed this year,” said Inhofe. “As always, I thank AOPA for all of the hard work they’ve done to make this a priority in Congress. I look forward to working with them to get this across the finish line.”

The third class medical reform language included in the National Defense Authorization Act would mean that many pilots would never again need to visit an aviation medical examiner (AME). For more details about the specifics of the reform language, visit AOPA’s frequently asked questions.

“We believe medical reform is a vital step toward growing the general aviation community and revitalizing this uniquely American industry,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “We are committed to doing everything we can to see these reforms signed into law.”

In April, the Senate passed third class medical reform as part of its FAA reauthorization legislation. In December 2015 the Senate passed medical reform as part of standalone Pilot's Bill of Rights 2 legislation. Both the Pilot's Bill of Rights 2 and FAA reauthorization are awaiting action in the House, where a controversial plan to privatize air traffic control has stalled all aviation-related legislation.

“We know how important medical reform is to our members, and while there have been roadblocks and holdups, we’re determined to keep pushing until we get it done,” said Coon.

Elizabeth Tennyson

Elizabeth A Tennyson

Senior Director of Communications
AOPA Senior Director of Communications Elizabeth Tennyson is an instrument-rated private pilot who first joined AOPA in 1998.
Topics: Advocacy, Pilot Regulation, Capitol Hill

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