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Finish Line in Sight for EAA’s Medical Certification Reform Efforts!
Today’s approval by Senate leaves only president’s signature remaining for legislation
July 13, 2016 – The nearly five-year effort by EAA and AOPA for meaningful third-class medical certification reform is now just one step away from reality, as today the U.S. Senate passed an FAA funding extension that includes major changes for medical certification.
The measure passed on an 89-4 vote and now goes to President Obama for his expected signature. That is anticipated to occur prior to the temporary FAA funding resolution expiring on Friday, July 15. This would bring a successful conclusion to an effort that began when EAA and AOPA jointly petitioned the FAA in 2012 for sweeping changes to third-class medical certification.
“What a great moment for recreational aviators who have been burdened with unnecessary regulations and expense with regard to medical certification,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO/Chairman. “There have been many doubters, but many more pilots who saw this as the most important advocacy effort EAA has pursued in years. We thank everyone who has given their support through all the ups and downs involved in getting this legislation across the finish line.”
Under the measure, the FAA has six months to issue the appropriate implementing regulations, but if they fail to do so within a year then the FAA can no longer take enforcement action against a pilot who does not hold a medical and otherwise meets the requirements stated in the legislation.
“Time and again the Senate has voted to pass the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, showing the strong bipartisan support there is among my colleagues for the general aviation community and specifically for reforming onerous third-class medical regulations," Inhofe said. "Now we have finally accomplished this goal with third-class medical reform included in the FAA extension that has successfully passed both chambers and will be signed into law by the president. This is a huge win for general aviation and will ensure that GA pilots across the country are not overburdened by existing medical certification regulations. I am grateful for the strong and consistent voice of EAA members who shared why third-class medical reform is necessary. I want to thank Jack Pelton, CEO/Chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and his team for their leadership and support from the beginning and all their work to educate my colleagues in Congress on issues that affect pilots."
While Inhofe forged the path forward in the Senate, working to surmount notable challenges and hurdles to the measure, EAA-member pilots Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) were leading the effort in the House. Pelton credited them for making it possible to create legislation that would pass Congress.
“This FAA extension is a win for General Aviation,” said Graves. “With provisions on third-class medical reform and tower marking requirements that improve safety for aviators, we can begin to fix some of our industry’s most pressing challenges. With that said, we must press forward to address some policies not included in this bill, such as lengthening the timeframe of aircraft registration, repealing statutory flight restrictions at sports stadiums near air shows, and permanently killing the threat of FAA fees for ATC services at air shows like Oshkosh and Sun ’n Fun.”
Inhofe will be speaking at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh on Saturday, July 30 at 10 a.m. in Forums Stage 1, while Graves and Rokita are also expected to attend. At AirVenture, EAA’s advocacy and membership teams will also be talking with members to review any specific language of the bill that is expected to be signed into law this week, and what it means for individual members.
The bill will allow most pilots who have held a valid medical certificate since July 2006 to fly without needing another FAA medical exam. Instead, pilots can be examined by their personal physician every four years and take an online aeromedical factors course every two years to remain medically qualified to fly.
“We said at the beginning that taking the legislative path was time-consuming and painstaking work, and we want to give enormous credit to those in Congress who showed leadership time and again,” Pelton said. “First, Inhofe’s persistence to find a way forward in the Senate on four separate occasions cannot be overstated. Graves and Rokita stepped up in the House to push this bill forward. I ask that EAA members thank these legislators for their dedication to this measure, and thank their own home-state legislators who supported it as well.”
For more information, see EAA’s FAQ page regarding aeromedical reform.