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EAA, AOPA Announce Plan To Expand Driver's License Medical Option

Aeromedical awareness training would replace third class medical

By J. Mac McClellan, Director of Publications, EAA 747337
Cherokee-Medical
Click here to sign up for e-mail alerts on the progress of EAA and AOPA’s petition to exempt pilots flying recreationally from the  third class medical certificate requirement.

September 24, 2011 EAA and AOPA jointly announced on Saturday, September 24, at AOPA Summit that the associations would petition the FAA for an exemption allowing pilots who have completed required aeromedical awareness training to fly recreationally with a driver’s license medical standard in place of the FAA Third Class medical certificate.

The request for exemption would allow pilots to fly airplanes of up to 180 hp during daylight VFR carrying no more than one passenger even though the airplane may have up to four seats.

Though a number of requests for exemption from the Third Class medical requirement have been made in the past this proposal differs markedly because pilots would be trained to understand medical issues that can affect safety of flight.

“We have more than five years’ experience now with the Sport Pilot certificate and the driver’s license medical standard,” EAA president and CEO Rod Hightower said. “In that time, we have not had a single medical incapacitation accident. The standard works.”
“Our petition would enhance safety by requiring initial and recurrent training about health awareness and medical self-certification for any pilot choosing the driver’s license standard,” added AOPA president Craig Fuller.

AOPA and EAA plan to file the request for exemption after the first of the year to allow time to fully develop a curriculum for the aeromedical awareness training. Under the proposed exemption pilots holding recreational, private, commercial or airline transport pilot certificates could opt to fly under the same driver’s license medical self-certification standards.

The health educational training program proposal is being developed jointly by EAA’s Aeromedical Advisory Council and AOPA Air Safety Institute in consultation with AOPA’s Board of Aeromedical Advisors. The goal of the training is to provide an equivalent level of safety as the Third Class medical by giving pilots the information and tools to make informed and safe decisions about their fitness to fly.

“Pilots must always assess their medical fitness to fly every day, not just on the day they visit their AME, so this program would give pilots the information they need to make safe and healthy decisions,” Hightower said.

EAA and AOPA estimate that the exemption could save pilots who currently fly with medical certificates nearly $250 million over 10 years, and save the federal government more than $11 million over the same period.

The number of basic single engine airplanes with 180 hp or less is believed to be well over 50,000 so pilots would have instant access to familiar airplanes to fly under the driver’s license alternative. “The safety record for pilots flying basic single engine airplanes under daylight VFR is already good, and the medical awareness training can only make it even better,” Hightower said.

There is no way to predict how long the FAA will take to act on the request for exemption but among the first steps in the process will be to post the request for member comments. EAA and AOPA will keep their members informed of progress on the request and tell them when and how to comment to the FAA.

What does the EAA/AOPA proposed request for medical certification exemption mean? What are the details? Find out more with the videos below featuring EAA and AOPA leaders.

EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower and AOPA President/CEO Craig Fuller explain how the two organizations worked together on plans to submit an exemption request for the third class medical certificate requirements for recreational pilots.

EAA V.P. of Government Affairs Doug Macnair and AOPA V.P. of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman discuss details of the proposed exemption.

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