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Thread: Scoop on Driver's license as Medical for recreational flying up to 180HP

  1. #1

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    Scoop on Driver's license as Medical for recreational flying up to 180HP

    I almost fell out of my chair when I read the article on the EAA main page this evening.

    "EAA, AOPA Announce Plan To Expand Driver's License Medical Option"

    BIG KUDOS to both organizations. I've been wondering when the next step was going to happen. This one seems to allow pilots to fly aircraft up to 180 HP using a DL as medical certifications with the limitation of 1 PAX and Day VFR.

    I do wonder why we can't just do what most are already thinking and allow a DL certification for the PPL rating for non-commercial use. That way (for the typical GA pilot) the airplane becomes USEFUL again at a lower cost and worry factor. One of the problems with the Sport Pilot reg (I currently fly as a sport pilot) is that if you have a family household of more than 2, they can't fly with you together. I'd argue that the night restriction is tough too, but probably not as big of a deal as the GW/PAX restrictions.

    At any rate - the Article says: "Under the proposed exemption pilots holding recreational, private, commercial or airline transport pilot certificates could opt to fly under the same driverís license medical self-certification standards"

    I assume that a Sport Pilot could opt in as well with the appropriate aircraft training, correct?

    Any Scoop?
    Robert

  2. #2

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    I assume that a Sport Pilot could opt in as well with the appropriate aircraft training, correct?
    I would guess not.

    The thing about this rule (which I agree with, and I'm a "pure" Sport Pilot), is that it allows a PPL to fly with restrictions without a medical.

    The big "however" is that in order to become a PPL one has to do all the things that require a medical - night flying in particular. Similarly, lots of ratings open to the PPL are closed to the Sport Pilot - no matter what the gross weight or HP of an aircraft, if it has retractable gear it's off limits (amphibs excluded). Ditto stall and cruise speed limitations.

    Plus the SP is limited by gross weight, while this rule is aimed at HP, like recreational pilots. Other than that, in reality there isn't anything a Sport Pilot can't do that's in the rule. Daytime VFR, one passenger. Bread and butter for a Sport Pilot.

    Mostly I'm in favor of the rule because in a few years I'm going to buy a Champ to go with my single seat Nieuport, and with a lot of PPL's wanting to fly under SP rules it's going to inflate the price for them!
    Last edited by Frank Giger; 09-26-2011 at 12:02 AM.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

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    There will be restrictions on what you can do, I don't think anyone can predict what the FAA will allow. (I am making the assumption that this time the rule will go through). I see absolutely no reason why a SP could not upgrade their license to PPL with the appropriate training. The limit would be that the new PPL would have to hold to the rules put forth when operating without a medical. It has been a long time since I have acted as a CFI so don't yell if I am not entirely accurate. FAR 61.110 deals with night flying, it also has provisions for those pilot candidates who can not complete night flight training. (Yes I do know it "invalidates" your certificate if night training is not completed in a certain amount of time) The point is that the provision is already there to allow for exemptions, a precedent has been set. What I think will be more of an issue is "what" the FAA allows as acceptable regardng the A/C. In a perfect world this would allow PPL to operate single engine a/c with the performance and capabilities associated with a "typical" GA aircraft. What I would predict is that the SP a/c rules would be expanded (weight, speed etc...) to allow for simple (The 172's and Cherokee's of the world) type a/c. As a former commercial pilot/CFI who can now has to operate as a sport pilot, I will take whatever I can get
    Fingers crossed
    Rick

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    WacoJoe's Avatar
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    What this would do is expand the ability to use a driver's license in lieu of an FAA medical certificate to the recreational pilot level. All the restrictions on a recreational pilot would still be there. (Check FAR Part 61 if you're not familiar with recreational pilot privileges and limitations.) This would NOT allow persons holding only a sport pilot certificate to expand to larger aircraft. It would, however, allow private pilots (and higher) to continue to fly aircraft that meet the limitations of the recreational pilot certificate using a driver's license. This would then include most of the Cherokee line, most if not all Cessna 172s, as well as the Cessna 120/140 and 150/152. It would include many of the vintage aircraft that don't quite make it as a light-sport aircraft due to gross weight or too many seats. It would include the Piper Tri-Pacer and Colt, the rest of the Ercoupe fleet, and a bunch of others.

    This is a step toward (maybe) someday allowing a private pilot to fly day-VFR non-commercially on a driver's license. But it would not be prudent to try to go that far in one "giant leap". Going to the recreational pilot level first will give a good "baby step" that the FAA might consider. Let's hope they see their way clear to (finally) allow this. (The FAA has turned down similar proposals in the past. Let's hope the time has come.)
    Cheers!

    Joe

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    WacoJoe - that is what I am wondering - the Recreational license is limited to 50nm from 'home base'.

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    steveinindy's Avatar
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    flying up to 180HP
    Eh....that's kind of disappointing and I imagine it would be subject to similar cross-border restrictions as the SP due to the ICAO requirements

    This is a step toward (maybe) someday allowing a private pilot to fly day-VFR non-commercially on a driver's license.
    It is a great potential step forward for those who simply fly day-VFR. It leaves those of us who fly for more than just $100 hamburgers and fun in the same predicament as we have been. If you're going to loosen the restrictions and say that people who can drive a car can safely fly as private pilots, then either **** or get off the pot.

    Honestly, what the FAA is doing is testing to see if the same rate of medical issues that crop up in study after study of car crashes (which are a lot more common than people often realize; one 1996 study in Accident Analysis and Prevention put it as high as 6% of crashes for drivers under 59 years of age and approximately 19% of cases involving drivers over that age of 60) will present themselves in the aviation community. Be safe out there guys.

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    WacoJoe,
    Where did you hear (or read) that it would be to recreational pilot restrictions? I wish to get as much information as possible in support of the EAA/AOPA effort.
    Thanks
    Rick

  8. #8

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    This is only a proposal from EAA Aopa to FAA.
    I personally doubt if FAA will accept it, at least at first.
    The requirements for a medical, even for the limited private pilot type of gen av pilot which has been done in the past; may not make much sense or be supported by any logic or research statistics; however that has been the mantra of the FAA for years.
    Are they likely to change it without a struggle?
    They have a lot of lawyers that are attached to the status quo.
    Remember how hard they fought for decades against raising the airline retirement age to over 60; even long after it was obvious that pilots over 60 were flying safely for airlines in other countries.
    One key element of this new proposal is that pilots receive some training in medical issues, also it is limited to one passenger; seems ok.

  9. #9
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    The requirements for a medical, even for the limited private pilot type of gen av pilot which has been done in the past; may not make much sense or be supported by any logic or research statistics
    It actually is fairly well supported when you look at how effective it has been at keeping the rate of medically related aircraft crashes far below the rate of say medically related car crashes. It may not be popular and a lot of the standards are excessively arbitrary but some of them are pretty well grounded (no pun intended) in statistical evidence.

    One key element of this new proposal is that pilots receive some training in medical issues, also it is limited to one passenger; seems ok.
    I see no point in the performance limitations. If a pilot is going to be incapacitated at the controls, he's going to crash just as readily in a 1000-lb bug smasher on a sunny day as he is in a Malibu on a night ILS approach to minimums.

    The only reason why the passenger rule is in place so far as I can tell is to limit the body count while the FAA uses sport pilots as a study population for this. They know we do a pretty crap-tastic job of policing ourselves when it comes to questionable activities (ever looked at how many deadpilots are found to have had bypasses, be on medications that are not reported to the FAA, etc? How many of us continue to scud run and engage in other knowingly hazard activities?) so this is simply a test to see how well the idea of letting people "medically certify" themselves works out. I hope it works out for the best but at the same time, I have my doubts about how it will work out as the certification becomes more prevalent and more pilots move towards it as they age (and therefore become higher medical risks). We are either being given just enough rope to have fun with or just enough to hang ourselves with. The decision on which it is has been placed in our hands.

    Fly safer everyone.

  10. #10
    WacoJoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBaptist View Post
    WacoJoe - that is what I am wondering - the Recreational license is limited to 50nm from 'home base'.
    The recreational pilot certificate normally is limited to 50 miles from "home base". However, it would be likely that this limitation would not apply to pilots holding private pilot certificates or higher, since they have already had the appropriate cross-country training. This situation is similar to the current sport pilot certificate, where pilots holding private or higher certificates are not required to get any of the airspace or aircraft endorsements due to their higher level of training.

    Quote Originally Posted by wyoranch View Post
    Where did you hear (or read) that it would be to recreational pilot restrictions? I wish to get as much information as possible in support of the EAA/AOPA effort.
    Rick, while it didn't say it in so many words in the news release, the following was included:

    The request for exemption would allow pilots to fly airplanes of up to 180 hp during daylight VFR carrying no more than one passenger even though the airplane may have up to four seats.

    This is exactly the limitations for a recreational pilot certificate, so it is clear that this is the level they are working on. It makes sense to use the "stepping stone" approach with the FAA, moving the driver's license allowance up to recreational pilot first, then later trying to move to private pilot. Much easier to do it this way rather than trying to go directly to the private pilot level.

    Remember too that, as originally proposed recreational pilot certificates would not have required a medical certificate (or even a driver's license). This would finally put that certificate in the position it was originally intended for.

    Let's hope the FAA finally sees their way clear to do this. It would be a HUGE move toward keeping more pilots flying and getting more pilots to join the ranks.
    Cheers!

    Joe

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