Momentum Continues to Grow For 3rd Class Medical Reform
Ten years ago, the federal aviation administration began a new program to permit pilots to fly light sport aircraft under certain conditions without an FAA medical, if they possessed a valid state driver’s license. Since the program began, it has been utilized safely and effectively by thousands of pilots flying tens of thousands of hours.
For some time there has been a broad-based effort to expand this approval to a much greater group of private pilots. The intent of this effort is to enact legislation allowing pilots to use the sport pilot standard of medical certification for non-commercial flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats.
This change would include virtually all single engine airplanes with six or fewer seats, including Beechcraft Bonanzas, as well as many light twins like the Piper Aztec, Beechcraft Baron 55 and 58, and Cessna 310. Pilots would be able to carry up to five passengers, flying at altitudes below 18,000 feet msl, in either VFR or IFR conditions, no faster than 250 knots.
All pilots would still be required to undergo a flight review, conducted by a certificated flight instructor at least every two years in order to act as pilot in command. During these flight reviews, instructors will continue to evaluate knowledge, skills and risk management to safely operate an aircraft.
The aircraft owners and pilots association (AOPA) took the lead on this effort with most of the other general aviation groups lending their support. The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 supports this change and has been filed in the United States House and Senate. As of this writing, the Senate Bill (S. 571) has 57 co-sponsors while the House Bill (H.R. 1062) has 122 co-sponsors.
Pilots who support third class medical reform should contact their senators and representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the pilot’s bill of rights 2. This is a change whose time has come. If this change does occur, it will be a huge stimulus for the general aviation industry.
Finally, I would like to announce the retirement of Director of Engineering Bijan Jamalabad. Harry Lorton will serve as the interim director.