EAA Government Advocacy
EAA continues to work hard on these issues and others of importance to EAA members and other aviators. There is strength in numbers, not only in EAA member participation but also in joining with other aviation groups and important allies such as the general aviation caucuses in the House and Senate.
- Third-Class Medical Exemption Request: What's Next?
- Accident Totals are More Than a Numbers Game
- Aeromedical Certification and Legal Help: Members Helping Members
- The Final Word: DPE, NDPER, or EAE for a Checkride?
The extended public comment period for the EAA/AOPA third-class medical certificate exemption request ended on September 14, and aviators certainly made their voices heard. A total of 16,137 comments were filed with the FAA since the public comment period opened in June. That total is nearly unprecedented for proposals before the agency and indicates the popular support for the measure. Each of those comments is important.
What's next? The next few months are primarily a "dark period," where the FAA will be reviewing the comments and how they relate to the proposal. There won't be discussions about it with aviation organizations during this time, and most of the answers we'll receive from the FAA will be along the lines of, "We're currently reviewing all of the comments we've received."
It's important to note that the FAA has not established a specific timeline for a final decision or determination on the request. Comment review typically takes several months, but this is an unusual situation because of the number of comments and the breadth of the proposal. When the FAA does announce its decision, it could approve or reject it in its entirety, approve sections of it, or delay it for further investigation.
EAA and AOPA believe the proposal, which would allow pilots to fly fixed-gear, single-engine airplanes of 180 hp or less carrying no more than one passenger in day VFR using a valid driver's license as evidence of medical qualification, is a measure whose time has come. The exemption also would create an online aeromedical training course that each pilot must complete. An online exam will test retention of the course material, and a course completion certificate would be required to be carried in lieu of the medical certificate.
Although official discussions about the proposal cannot be held with the FAA right now, EAA will continue to support this request to the FAA whenever possible, as we continue to seek ways to minimize the burden to those who want to participate in aviation. This exemption request is essential to starting the conversation regarding medical certification for recreational flying, maintaining safety, and lowering barriers to personal flight.
The end of the FAA's fiscal year on September 30 also ended the annual 12-month measure of fatal aircraft accidents, including those in the experimental amateur-built category. In October 2011, the FAA set a not-to-exceed goal of 70 fatal experimental category accidents. Preliminary figures for the 12-month period ending September 30 show that 73 fatal accidents in experimental category aircraft occurred, three more than that figure. Of those accidents, 50 involved experimental amateur-built aircraft, 11 were experimental light-sport aircraft, and the remaining 12 involved experimental exhibition, racing, and FAR compliance categories.
More will be studied and written about the accident figures in the coming weeks, but there's more beyond the numbers. Each of these fatal accidents has a story behind it - the type of aircraft, the experience of the pilot, the contributing factors, and more. Those are areas where EAA is involved by working with the FAA and other aviation organizations in groups such as the GA Joint Steering Committee and the Type Club Coalition. We work with these groups to make sure that we can properly identify the root causes of fatal accidents and work toward safety improvements. EAA's leadership in programs such as Technical Counselors and Flight Advisors will play an even greater role in the future with regard to safety.
The most important factor in safety, though, belongs to you. Safety includes education and individual attitudes, which help deter further or more burdensome regulations. Together we can - and must - make a difference to maintain the freedom of flight, and above all your personal safety and that of those who fl y with you.
If you need help navigating the FAA aeromedical certification process or have a legal question relating to aviation, EAA members have a number of resources at their disposal. Call 800-564-6322 or e-mail email@example.com, and one of our specialists at headquarters will be happy to answer your questions or refer you to one of our volunteer experts.
EAA is fortunate to count three groups of aviation professionals among its membership who are among the very best in their fields: the Pilot Advocate aeromedical examiners, the Aeromedical Advisory Council, and the Legal Advisory Council. Each are composed of EAA members who volunteer their time to help fellow members.
For aeromedical questions, EAA staff can refer you to our Pilot Advocate aeromedical examiners (AMEs) or Aeromedical Advisory Council members. These are AMEs throughout the country who are also EAA members and have agreed to answer preliminary questions from members at no cost. If you are wondering how best to proceed with a special issuance or what medications might pose a problem, they can help or point you in the right direction.
For legal advice, EAA staff can refer you to our Legal Advisory Council (LAC). This group of highly skilled aviation attorneys is a tremendous asset. They can advise members regarding initial steps to take and whether legal action is necessary. If it is determined that actual legal proceedings are required, they can be hired to represent you or can refer you to an expert aviation attorney or other professional in your area. All LAC members are pilots who have experience representing airmen, mechanics, manufacturers, and operators, and between them, the council has experience in every facet of aviation.
We cannot stress enough how grateful we are for the support of these groups. Members of the Pilot Advocate AMEs, Aeromedical Advisory Council, and Legal Advisory Council embody one of the very best qualities that all EAAers share: putting their skills to work to help fellow members enjoy all that aviation has to offer.
The Final Word - Sean Elliott, EAA Vice President of Advocacy and Safety
DPE, NDPER, or EAE for a Checkride?
There are several different types of examiners who are "designated" by the FAA to perform certain specialized practical exams for pilots. Most pilots are accustomed to the designated pilot examiner (DPE) as the individual who performs flight exams for FAA certificates and ratings. These folks are the people you would call to schedule a practical test (e.g., checkride) for a sport, recreational, or private pilot exam, or perhaps an instrument rating. DPEs possess great expertise in the certificates and ratings they are authorized to examine. They usually have an extensive flight-instructing background as well. They are managed primarily through a local FSDO and meet regularly with the FAA and each other to ensure standardization.
What you probably did not know is that there are also two national groups of designated specialty examiners for certain types of aircraft. National designated pilot examiners (NDPERs) and experimental aircraft examiners (EAEs) perform practical tests for unique vintage and experimental exhibition aircraft in areas of the country where a DPE with that particular expertise does not exist. Need a type rating in a B-17 or T-28? NDPERs and EAEs can fill the bill. These examiners have very specialized expertise across a wide variety of really cool warbirds and vintage jet aircraft. I personally know many of them and can assure you that they are very skilled and experienced aviators. NDPERs and EAEs are managed on a national level by the Flight Standards Division of the FAA with additional oversight by EAA. View a full list of who holds these special designations and the aircraft they are qualified for.
What is important to remember is that both the NDPER and the EAE programs were developed to supplement the original FAA DPE effort. There are still plenty of DPEs across the country who have the ability and designation to perform some of these specialized flight exams. In that case, it is not necessary or even appropriate to bring in an NDPER or EAE. The specialty examiners are in place to fill the voids where a DPE with the credentials and expertise does not exist in that region. That way, everyone seeking service such as a type rating in a warbird has access to a qualified examiner and is able to take a checkride in a timely fashion. After all, getting your practical test with little or no wait time as soon as you finish the training is perhaps the most important aspect of a quality flight-training experience.
EAA's Government Relations department works to preserve the freedom of flight and reduce the regulatory barriers affecting affordability and access to EAA members’ participation in aviation. Protecting the freedom to fly is the foundation on which all of the organization’s advocacy initiatives are built. EAA fights to preserve this freedom by providing clear solutions and practical alternatives backed by hard work and dedication. EAA’s history of success is a testament to that philosophy.