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More Than 16,000 Comments on EAA/AOPA Medical Exemption Request

End of public comment period moves measure to next stage

September 20, 2012 - A late flurry of public comments to the joint EAA/AOPA third-class medical exemption request pushed the total number of comments to more than 16,000, one of the largest totals for any public comment period involving GA activities.

The public comment period for the proposal had been extended in July and ended on September 14.

The FAA will now review the comments regarding the proposal, which was offered jointly by EAA and AOPA to bring more people into aviation while keeping a high standard of safety for pilots. The FAA has not established a timetable for its final decision, which could include accepting or rejecting the proposal in its entirety, accepting parts of the proposal, or deciding to study it further. The EAA/AOPA measure is an important step to engage the agency in a discussion about standards regarding medical fitness for GA flight.

The petition for exemption asks that pilots be able to fly fixed-gear, single-engine airplanes of 180 hp or less carrying no more than one passenger in day VFR using a valid driver's license as evidence of medical qualification. The exemption also would create an online aeromedical training course that each pilot must study. An online exam will test retention of the course material.

It is EAA's position that education is more effective than regulation and the online course would give pilots the knowledge necessary to determine when they are medically fit to fly. Medical fitness is a day-to-day evaluation and decision that each pilot makes with colds, flu, or even fatigue and distraction being important considerations, not just major health events. The required training gives us the tools to make those fitness-to-fly decisions responsibly.

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