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Comment Period Open for Medical Exemption Request

Now is the time to make your voice heard

March 29, 2012 - The exemption request filed by EAA and AOPA earlier this month pertaining to third-class medical certificates has been officially posted by the federal government, making it possible for the public to submit comments on the proposal.

The request, officially named "Petition of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Experimental Aircraft Association for an exemption from 14 CFT Part 61," is available at Regulations.gov under Docket FAA-2012-0350. The request, if granted, stands to increase the level of safety and significantly reduce a substantial economic and regulatory burden for pilots who fly recreationally.

Public comments are accepted online through the website. AOPA and EAA have also issued a guide to assist aviators when making their comments on the exemption. In addition, visitors to this week's Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida, can attend a joint EAA/AOPA forum on Friday, March 30, at 11 a.m. (EDT) in Forum Area 6 to learn more about the exemption request.

Currently, FAA regulations require all pilots to hold at least a third-class medical certificate to exercise the privileges of a private or recreational certificate. EAA and AOPA are asking the FAA for an exemption to that rule, which would give pilots who fly recreationally the option of getting a third-class medical or, instead, participating in a recurrent online education program that will teach them how to self-assess their fitness to fly.

The education program will cover aeromedical factors and exceed the training presently mandated by the FAA. Participating pilots would also be required to hold a valid driver's license and conduct a meaningful self-assessment prior to flight. The self-assessment required in the exemption will be similar to what pilots do now between AME visits. The difference is that pilots will have a higher level of knowledge to do the self-assessment after completion of the required education program.

The requested exemption would help to mitigate the increased risk inherent in transitioning to unfamiliar and sometimes distinctly different aircraft, which is the only currently available alternative to the FAA's third-class medical.

This exemption request has been built upon substantial evidence obtained over the past 20 years, most recently proven through the successful medical safety standards allowed under the sport pilot certificate, which currently utilizes the driver's license medical standard in lieu of an FAA medical certificate.

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