The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) have filed a joint request with the FAA seeking to allow many private pilots to use a driver's license and medical self-assessment in place of a third-class medical certificate.
Current FAA regulations require pilots to hold at least a third-class medical to exercise the privileges of a private or recreational certificate. AOPA and EAA are asking for an exemption to the rule that would give pilots the option of obtaining a third-class medical or participating in recurrent online education detailing how to self-assess their fitness to fly.
The exemption would cover pilots flying single-engine, fixed-gear airplanes with 180 hp or less in day VMC operations with up to one passenger aboard. A 2009 AOPA policy survey found that 72 percent of member respondents expressed a strong interest in eliminating the third-class medical requirement for pilots flying for recreation. AOPA also notes that the rule change would save money.
“Our petition offers substantial economic savings to pilots and the U.S. government,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “A conservative estimate shows a savings of $241 million for pilots and $11 million to the federal government over 10 years.”
An earlier petition filed with the FAA by a private individual and supported by AOPA and EAA had been rejected, prompting the organizations to file a separate request.