No Action on Third-Class Medical Reform Until Fall

Congress shelves plan until after summer break.

Congress has all but given up trying to pass a highway spending bill before starting its long summer break this weekend, quashing hopes of third-class medical reform coming up for a vote before the fall.

Even then, lawmakers who support expanding medical self-assessments from the Sport pilot ranks to most private pilots will face an uphill battle getting the provision approved given the mountain of work Congress must address by the end of the year and sweeping changes some want to see within the FAA.

Not helping matters was the Air Line Pilots Association’s sudden opposition to third-class medical reform, which the union argues could put the traveling public in danger by filling the skies with “medically unfit” private pilots.

ALPA says it wants medical reform to be a part of the discussion about FAA reauthorization, which has been delayed to at least September. But such reform is certain to be overshadowed by bigger issues, such as a Republican proposal to privatize ATC and levy aviation user fees.

ALPA hasn’t said where it stands on that issue, but airlines are pushing hard for a privatized ATC to takeover NextGen implementation, which air carriers view as an abject failure under the stewardship of the FAA.

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