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FAA Proposes Allowing BasicMed for Safety Pilots

November 24, 2021 – The FAA is proposing to fix a technicality in the Federal Aviation Regulations that prevents pilots flying under BasicMed from operating, in most cases, as safety pilots under simulated instrument conditions. The fix is included in a recently released notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that requires commercial balloon pilots to hold second-class medicals, to fulfill a Congressional mandate implemented after a high-profile accident several years ago.

When the FAA created BasicMed in 2017, it directly copied the law passed by Congress that required the agency to do so. While this allowed for an expedient rulemaking process, the rulemakers took the congressional language literally that only pilots in command (PICs) could utilize the new program. This meant that other required flight crew members, most notably safety pilots who are required to be on board while the PIC is using a view-limiting device, still needed to have at least a third-class medical certificate.

The new language changes instances of “pilot in command” in the rule to “pilot in command or required flight crew member.” This allows any required crew, including safety pilots, to use BasicMed.

“This is a long-overdue fix to an illogical technicality in the rule,” said Tom Charpentier, EAA government relations director. “While it is unfortunate that it comes together with a Congressional mandate that increases regulatory burden on commercial balloon operators, we are pleased that the FAA took the opportunity to fix BasicMed as part of its regulatory compliance with Congress."

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