If AOPA and EAA have their way, medical certificates may become a thing of the past. Amidst a dramatic Star Wars entrance at the annual Pancake Breakfast, AOPA President Craig Fuller and EAA President Rod Hightower announced a united front to change the face of medical airmen certification.
The two organizations are petitioning the FAA for an exemption to the medical certification rule that will allow a pilot to operate an aircraft recreationally with only a driver’s license and special training in medical self-certification.
Fuller and Hightower pointed out that this petition could save the federal government as much as $240 million without adversely affecting safety. For seven years, sport pilots have been allowed to operate without an FAA issued medical certificate and Hightower was eager to point out that there has not been a single medical incapacitation accident since the sport pilot rule was approved.
On safety, Fuller claimed that replacing medical certificates with a self-certification training course will likely improve safety. Under the current rules, pilots holding a 3rd class medical need only visit a doctor once every 24 to 60 calendar months depending on age, but receive very little training on determining their personal fitness for flight.
If accepted, the new exemption will allow many older pilots to return to the cockpit while opening the doors for more student pilots who might otherwise be denied private pilot training.