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FAA Extends Comment Period for Medical Certification Exemption

Positive response to EAA/AOPA request

July 10, 2012 - The Federal Aviation Administration has granted a request by EAA and AOPA to extend the public comment period for the organizations' third-class medical certification exemption request, which had already prompted more than 14,000 comments in a brief 20-day period that closed last week.

The number of comments submitted showed overwhelming interest and support for the measure, with those comments still flowing in at a strong pace when the comment period ended on July 2. The extended comment period allows everyone who wants to comment on this important proposal has the opportunity to do so.

The new deadline for public comments is September 14, giving pilots an additional 70 days to give their input. The exemption request would allow pilots who fly recreationally the ability to operate many popular GA aircraft by completing an online medical awareness course, carrying a valid state driver's license, and observing certain operating limitations. An estimated 39,000 pilots could be affected annually by such a change, with the inclusion of as many 114,000 single-engine piston aircraft.

EAA encourages those who are commenting not only to indicate their support for the measure, but also describe how pilots already evaluate their fitness before every flight they take and how the proposed online course would enable them to do so more effectively. Other key points include the potential of keeping more pilots flying, and the increasing evidence that medical incapacitation is a very rare cause of flight accidents.

The extended public comment period will not greatly affect any projected timeline for an FAA decision on the exemption request, as the agency had not set any deadline to issue a determination on the proposal.

Here's the direct link to the "Submit a Comment" page (FAA Document FAA-2012-0350-0001):
http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2012-0350-0001, then click on the Comment button.

More background on the EAA/AOPA exemption request can be found in the Guide to the Medical Exemption Request and replies to frequently asked questions.

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