After the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) submitted a petition for exemption for the third-class medical requirement for private or recreational pilots on March 20, 2012, more than 14,000 comments overwhelmingly in support of the exemption were submitted to the FAA. However, the agency failed to act on the exemption request, and now Congress is exerting pressure on the FAA to expand the third-class medical exemption, which currently applies to sport pilots.
Sport Pilot Catch 22
The FAA will begin formal rulemaking to consider whether to allow private pilots to use a driver’s license in lieu of an FAA medical certificate in some circumstances, the agency announced yesterday. The announcement follows a joint petition by AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association to the FAA to expand the third-class medical exemption, as well as proposed legislation, the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA), that is currently making its way through both the House and Senate.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects its new first officer qualification rule for commercial pilots that require, with certain exceptions, 1,500 hours of flight time and an air transport pilot certificate to appear in the government’s Federal Register on Monday.
The Transportation Department’s inspector general told the House aviation subcommittee in July that possible extensions to the durations of medical certificates and the planned raising of the airline pilot retirement age underscore the importance of the medical certification process.