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FAA Still Reviewing EAA/AOPA Medical Certification Exemption Request

January 10, 2013 - The EAA/AOPA medical certification exemption request, for which the public comment period closed in September, remains under review by the FAA as part of what's commonly known as the "quiet period" prior to a final decision by the agency.

The FAA is sifting and categorizing more than 16,000 comments regarding the exemption request - nearly all of them in favor of proposal. The number of comments to a single request is nearly unprecedented in the agency's history and will take more than the usual time to complete.

While the FAA has never set a timeline for a decision on the medical certification exemption request, EAA and AOPA continue to urge the agency at every opportunity to review it as expeditiously as possible, as many aviators are closely watching the decision to determine their own flying futures.

The exemption request would allow recreational pilots to operate many popular GA aircraft by completing an online medical awareness course, carrying a valid state driver's license, and observing specified operating limitations.

During the "quiet period" following public comments, the FAA is not allowed to discuss the status of the proposal as agency officials review the public comments and ramifications of the request. The FAA could approve the proposal in its entirety, approve parts of it, or reject the proposal.

EAA, AOPA, and other groups have made numerous requests to change the current third-class airman medical certification system over the past 25 years, with only incremental changes being approved, such as lengthened duration and use of driver's license medical certification for pilots exercising the privileges of a sport pilot. The current proposal looks at the challenge in a new way that aims to maintain safety and keep pilots flying familiar aircraft, while building on the medical safety record of sport pilots and those who fly aircraft such as balloons and gliders without a medical certificate requirement. 

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