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Pushing for Success: Medical Reform Attached to FAA Funding Extension
July 6, 2016 - EAA and AOPA representatives are pressing to ensure that aeromedical reform initiatives get every opportunity for success this summer, as they have worked with House and Senate leaders for a breakthrough that would allow the medical reform provisions of the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 to be attached to the pending FAA funding extension. EAA and AOPA have continually pursued avenues for moving aeromedical reforms forward by any means possible, as the Senate has passed the measure three separate times.
“This has been slow, painstaking work – but important work as EAA members have told us this is the top legislative priority,” said EAA CEO/Chairman Jack J. Pelton, who has been part of the EAA team working this issue. “The Senate has already approved the concept of aeromedical reform on several occasions, and EAA was determined to find an avenue to get it through the House as well.”
The medical provisions within Pilots’ Bill of Rights 2 legislation developed by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), a pilot and EAA member, proposed that:
- Most pilots who have held a valid third-class medical, either regular or special issuance, within the 10 years prior to the legislation’s enactment would never need to get another FAA medical exam. The rule would apply to pilots flying VFR or IFR in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds and carrying up to five passengers at altitudes below 18,000 feet and speeds up to 250 knots. Instead, they would visit their personal physician every four years and take an online aeromedical factors training course every two years.
- Pilots who develop certain medical conditions, including a small list of specific cardiac, mental health, or neurological conditions, will have to obtain a FAA special issuance medical one time only, significantly reducing the time and money spent navigating the FAA’s medical bureaucracy through repeated renewals as exists today.
- For pilots who have not had a valid medical in the past 10 years and those who have never applied for and received a medical certificate, a one-time third-class medical certification by an aviation medical examiner will be required. After a pilot has been medically certified once, either through the regular or special-issuance processes, he or she will also be able to fly indefinitely without needing to go through the FAA medical certification process again, relying instead on the periodic visits to a personal physician and taking the online aeromedical course.
- When visiting their personal physician every four years, pilots will need to fill out a form and provide it to the doctor performing the exam. The pilot must make a note of the visit and keep the signed form in his or her logbook.
- The form will include a short medical history questionnaire as well as a list of items the doctor must include in the examination. Following the exam, both the physician and the pilot must sign the form verifying that the items were examined and discussed.
“As we mentioned often at the beginning of this effort, bringing change through legislation is not quick or easy,” Pelton said. “We have fought every day to overcome significant challenges in Congress and will continue to do so. This is a major step forward in changing the landscape of medical certification for recreational and personal flying. It provides relief for pilots while maintaining safety – and in some cases, enhancing it.”