AOPA, EAA Continue Push for Driver’s License Medicals

Groups will submit new petition to FAA soon.

Cessna 172
Cessna 172

The FAA has shot down a proposal that sought to expand driver's license medicals to all pilots flying aircraft weighing 6,000 pounds or less – but that hasn't stopped AOPA and EAA from continuing to push for the change.

The agency denied a 2009 petition calling for the switch that received more than 1,000 supportive comments. AOPA was among the strong backers of the rule rewrite, telling the FAA that it supported the “expansion of the eligible population and kinds of operations that can use a driver’s license medical or self-certification as is requested in this petition.” Currently, Sport Pilots can fly with a driver’s license in lieu of a medical certificate.

In rejecting the proposal, the FAA noted that many complex single- and multi-engine piston aircraft, and even some turboprops and jets, would fall under the 6,000-pound weight limit. “Expanding the option of relying on a valid state driver's license in lieu of a third-class airman medical certificate to include private pilots exercising privileges in aircraft whose performance and handling qualities typically are well above current LSA limitations would require complex amendments to FAA aircraft certification, operational, and medical standards that, absent more substantive safety evidence, may prove unwise,” the FAA wrote.

Now AOPA and EAA plan to submit a new petition addressing the FAA’s concerns. The joint proposal will ask the FAA to allow pilots flying day VFR for recreation in single-engine aircraft with less than 180 horsepower to use a driver’s license as their medical. The proposal would limit operations to aircraft with four seats or fewer, fixed gear, and a maximum of one passenger. To be eligible for the exemption, pilots would need to have a current driver's and self-certify themselves online.