April 2, 2014 — The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is calling the Federal Aviation Administration’s announcement to begin a formal rulemaking process on expanding medical self-certification for pilots a good initial step, and supports any initiatives to modernize the aviation medical certification system for recreational flying.
The FAA announced today that it would begin a rulemaking project that would consider allowing private pilots to substitute the medical requirements of a valid driver’s license in lieu of a third-class FAA medical certificate.
“EAA’s decades-long efforts on this issue, on its own and in association with organizations such as AOPA, are beginning to pay off with steps such as today’s FAA announcement and the proposed General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA) in both houses of Congress that is gaining significant momentum,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA Chairman of the Board. “We are eager to see the details of what they are proposing and evaluate their significance. EAA will support this rulemaking initiative as well as legislative solutions to expand the freedom of flight for our members and all aviators.”
Over the past quarter century, EAA has made numerous petitions and requests to FAA to extend medical self-certification to an even greater population of aviators. Most recently, EAA and AOPA joined forces in a March 2012 exemption request to FAA that would expand use of self-certification for recreational flying, based on the outstanding medical incapacitation safety record established over the past decade by pilots flying light-sport aircraft. This petition is still awaiting formal FAA action, despite more than 16,000 comments submitted overwhelmingly in support of the measure. Today’s FAA announcement may indicate a willingness to extend the privilege beyond that requested in the EAA/AOPA exemption request, although the agency noted that it is still considering that request.
Over the past three months, Congress has also expressed interest in expanding medical self-certification through the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act. First introduced in the House last December by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), the bipartisan measure now has 86 co-sponsors. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate last month by Sens. John Boozman (R-AR), Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) and now has eight co-sponsors. More than 35,000 letters supporting the measure have been sent to members of Congress by EAA members through EAA’s Rally Congress system.
“EAA and its members understand the sense and urgency of these changes, and appreciate the efforts in Congress on this issue,” Pelton said. “Aeromedical reform has long been a top priority for EAA and the member participation in this campaign reinforces how important it is to pilots everywhere. EAA is working hard to effect meaningful change and will not stop until we do.”