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Educating D.C. on Medical Certification Reform

Great time for EAA members to reach out to their local members of Congress

September 18, 2014 - EAA’s push in support of third-class medical certification reform continued in recent days, with briefings for members of the National Transportation Safety Board and another opportunity for EAA members to connect with lawmakers to urge support for this important issue.

Using the relationship-building and solution-seeking philosophy espoused by EAA Founder Paul Poberezny more than 60 years ago, EAA staff and members met with NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher Hart and Board Member Earl Weener in Washington, D.C., last week to brief them on the opportunities for improved safety under medical certification reform.

“These discussions were especially timely, given NTSB’s report on prescription and over-the-counter drug use by pilots released last week,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “The medical certification reform proposal created by EAA and AOPA would include pilot education on incapacitating effects of medications – something that is not part of today’s third-class medical certification process. We’re pleased with the open dialogue we are able to have with NTSB’s top officials.”

In addition, EAA has updated its Rally Congress communication tool, where members can send messages directly to their members of Congress in support of aeromedical reform legislation. EAA members can easily use the system to urge their U.S. representatives and senators to co-sponsor the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (GAPPA) that was first introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) in late 2013. Rep. Rokita, who is also a pilot, was in Oshkosh this summer to talk with EAA members about his legislation.

“With the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the U.S. Senate involved in elections in less than two months, there will be plenty of candidates campaigning in their states and districts in the coming weeks,” Elliott said. “While EAA’s 501(c)(3) non-profit organization status prohibits it from directly or indirectly supporting any candidate, political party, or campaign, the election season is an excellent opportunity for individual members to ask candidates where they stand on supporting medical certification reform for pilots and to become a co-signer of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act.”

The medical community is also rallying behind certification reform. On Monday, the Flying Physicians Association sent a letter to the Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget to speed their review of the FAA rulemaking proposal on the issue. An FPA survey showed that 80 percent of its members believe a third-class medical certificate is not necessary, does not add to safety, and can be eliminated for private flying.

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