FAA Extension Includes Third-Class Medical Reform

House and Senate iron out a compromise that could reach the White House within weeks.

FAA Extension Congress
A bill that reached a compromise between the House and Senate to extend FAA authorization includes provisions for third-class medical reform.Scrumshus/Creative Commons

A deal being brokered by the House and Senate to keep the lights turned on at the FAA beyond July 15 includes third-class medical reform language, which has already passed in the Senate but has been held up in the House over the contentious fight to privatize ATC.

GA forces remain staunchly opposed to the ATC privatization plan, but at the expense of quick passage of other measures many pilots want adopted ASAP — and at the top of that list is third-class medical reform. The compromise bill agreed upon earlier this week would require the FAA to replace medical exams with pilot self-certification and recurrent online aeromedical training, meaning many pilots may never need to see an Aviation Medical Examiner again.

The House and Senate are expected to pass the extension legislation before Congress adjourns next week. Once the president signs the bill into law, the FAA will have up to one year to craft formal regulations before the third-class medical provisions become effective.

“Including third-class medical reform in this package is great news for general aviation, and we’re very pleased that the House has included it as part of the FAA extension,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “We appreciate the efforts of general aviation advocates in both the House and Senate. This is a vital issue for the general aviation community, and it’s long past time to get it done.”