AOPA Fed Up with Medical Reform Delays

Association calls for end to foot dragging.

DOT Medical Reform

DOT Medical Reform

After three long years marked by a series of unexplained delays, AOPA President Mark Baker sent a blistering letter to the head of the Department of Transportation this week to tell him pilots are fed up with the government's foot dragging over 3rd class medical reform.

Writing to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx that it is "incomprehensible to many in the aviation community that no action has yet been taken," Baker said he is exasperated that efforts to permit medical self-evaluations in place of medical exams for some pilots have been "bogged down" at the Transportation Department for the last seven months as part of a mandatory review process that is supposed to take no more than 90 days.

"The delays are particularly maddening when the proposed rule is likely so closely based on a standard that has been used by thousands of pilots for more than a decade" under Sport Pilot rules, Baker wrote.

Under the proposal, supported by 180 members of Congress as part of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, certain private pilots would be permitted to forgo the formal FAA medical process provided they hold a valid driver's license and perform self-assessments of their own health. Baker said AOPA is developing an online course to give pilots tools for evaluating their fitness to fly.

Latest estimates are for the publication of a pilot medical reform notice of proposed rulemaking in early March. AOPA, however, clearly questions the NPRM's timeline given the series of frustrating delays thus far.

"On behalf of our members and the aviation community we must ask, when will the Department of Transportation allow third-class medical reform to move forward?" Baker wrote. "After three years of scrutiny and analysis, the time to take action is now."

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