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EAA Leads The Way On Aviation Medical Reform


June 22, 2006 — Without measures to correct the FAA's current medical certificate processing backlog, pilots may have to temporarily give up flying whether they want to or not. And as pilots age, it's likely they'll face a choice between requesting a special issuance medical certification or giving up flying as a private pilot.

Fortunately, EAA has two of the best in the industry on its side: Dr. Richard Jennings and Dr. Jack Hastings. And they're working for you on this and other aeromedical issues.

Jennings, a long-time EAA member, is president of the Aerospace Medicine Association (AsMA) - the largest professional organization in the fields of aviation, space, and environmental medicine. AsMA has provided its expertise to a multitude of federal and international agencies on a broad range of issues including aviation medical standards and aging pilots. Jennings has upheld EAA's members-helping-members philosophy, having previously served on EAA's Aeromedical Advisory Council and currently serving as one of EAA's AME advocates, a cadre of medical professionals helping fellow aviators with aeromedical issues.

Hastings - also an EAA member - is chairman of EAA's Aeromedical Advisory Council and AsMA president-elect for 2007.

These two well-credentialed individuals joined EAA President Tom Poberezny in spearheading an advocacy effort beginning in 2005 that recently led the FAA to take immediate action in reducing the medical certificate special issuance backlog. While FAA agreed to explore EAA's proposals for more sweeping, long-term improvements, the positive first steps to which FAA agreed included:

  • Increasing the number of doctors available to review and approve special issuance applications by farming out cases electronically from the Civil Aeromedical Branch to FAA regional flight surgeons.
  • Allowing medical examiners to renew special issuances directly by expanding the list of approved conditions for which medical examiners can review special issuance certificates instead of sending them to the FAA for review.
  • Educating medical examiners to participate more fully in the Aviation Medical Examiner Assisted Special Issuance (AASI) process.
  • Exploring opportunities for greater delegation of authority from the FAA to the Aviation Medical Examiner (EAA's "Super AME" proposal).

Even though this is just the beginning, EAA and its Aeromedical Advisory Council - along with Jennings and Hastings - will continue to work with the FAA to make sure these efforts are implemented effectively. Because the Council is made up of EAA members who are active aeromedical examiners volunteering their time to assist other members on medical issues, their insight is invaluable.

"The EAA Aeromedical Advisory Council has done outstanding work in outlining the current situation and providing solutions," noted Poberezny. "Enacting the Council's recommendations will streamline the processing of medical applications without compromising air safety."

This organized system of EAA members helping members is one of the great EAA membership benefits that goes far beyond just the realm of government advocacy. And for EAA to have two premier aeromedical experts such as Jennings and Hastings representing its members and offering them the highest level of expertise is an incredible asset. Adds Poberezny: "These highly qualified individuals are well recognized within the aeromedical field and have the knowledge and experience to address the issues and develop practical recommendations and solutions."

It's this unparalleled depth of skills and expertise that is precisely what gives EAA the ability to make well-informed decisions for the future benefit of all members.

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