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Thread: Legislation Seeks to Allow Driver's License Medical

  1. #1
    Jonathan Harger's Avatar
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    Legislation Seeks to Allow Driver's License Medical

    As you know, the 3rd class medical exemption has been the most important advocacy goal for EAA for some time. In March of 2012, EAA and AOPA filed a petition with the FAA that would allow pilots to fly four or fewer seat, single engine, fixed prop, 180-horsepower maximum aircraft with two souls on board in day-VFR with a driver’s license in lieu of a 3rd class medical. The FAA has yet to respond to that petition, and many pilots were wondering what the next step would be, given the stalled petition.
    Now we know. EAA advocacy representatives worked closely with several Congressmen to address the issue, and the result is a bill introduced in the House today that would allow pilots to fly with a driver’s license in lieu of a medical, with some conditions that are outlined in the story below. I will update this post as more information becomes available.
    UPDATE: This bill has been assigned number H.R. 3708. EAA will be calling on members to contact their representatives when Congress is back in session after the new year in late January. Contacting them now when the offices are going to be all but closed for a month is not the best way to get their attention. We will use the Rally Congress tool that we have very successfully deployed in the past to enable our membership to send letters to their representatives, and we will send an all-member email when that tool is ready to go.

    December 11, 2013 – Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced a bill in the U.S. House today that seeks to abolish the third class medical certificate for many pilots who fly recreationally. The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Reps. Bill Flores (R-TX), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Richard Hanna (R-NY), would require recreational pilots to hold a valid driver’s license in lieu of a third-class medical certificate and operating under specific limitations.
    “This legislation addresses two goals EAA has long advocated: Eliminating excess red tape in the medical certification process while maintaining a safe way to keep pilots flying,” said Jack Pelton, EAA’s chairman of the board. “Our members and the general aviation community have long supported a change in the medical certification process. This proposal will maintain safety, reduce costs for pilots and the federal government, and allow people to pursue the unique freedom of flight in the same way they can pursue other powered recreational activities.”
    The proposed rule would allow pilots to use a valid state driver’s license in place of the traditional medical certificate if:

    • The flights are not for compensation
    • Conducted in VFR operations only, at or below 14,000 feet MSL
    • No faster than 250 knots
    • In aircraft with no more than six seats and no more than 6,000 pounds gross takeoff weight.

    In addition to allowing pilots to operate common GA aircraft for recreational without a third-class medical, the bill also mandates that the FAA prepare and send a report to Congress detailing the impact of the bill’s passage on general aviation safety within five years of the bill’s enactment.
    “EAA and other GA associations worked with Rep. Rokita in developing this legislation, as we are committed to lowering barriers to aviation participation,” said Sean Elliott, vice president of EAA advocacy and safety. “This legislation is a step toward both of those goals. The third-class medical certificate does little to evaluate the day-to-day fitness of pilots flying recreationally. There are better ways to maintain high medical standards for aviation and allow people the freedom for individuals to enjoy the world of flight.”
    The bill is another step in EAA’s effort to maintain aviation safety while growing participation in aviation. EAA and other aviation groups have regularly petitioned the FAA for medical certification updates and changes, most recently in the joint EAA/AOPA third-class medical certificate exemption request in March 2012. The FAA has yet to move on the request, despite more than 16,000 supportive comments to the docket during the public comment period.
    Last edited by Jonathan Harger; 12-12-2013 at 10:08 AM. Reason: Update to add bill number
    Jonathan Harger, EAA 63226
    EAA Advocacy and Safety

  2. #2
    gbrasch's Avatar
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    Heard it first in an email from AOPA. Does EAA plan to get the word out directly to all it's members?
    Glenn Brasch
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  3. #3
    Jonathan Harger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbrasch View Post
    Heard it first in an email from AOPA. Does EAA plan to get the word out directly to all it's members?
    Absolutely. The story will be up on our website within the hour, and we will announce it using all of our social media outlets.
    Jonathan Harger, EAA 63226
    EAA Advocacy and Safety

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    David Pavlich's Avatar
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    I've already written my Senators and Representative. I must say, I'm not going to get too excited, but this could be the single best mechanism to save GA. I hope everyone here takes a few minutes to let your congressional representatives know that this is a good thing and that they need to support it.

    David

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    Goggles Congressional Bill

    Quote Originally Posted by David Pavlich View Post
    I've already written my Senators and Representative. I must say, I'm not going to get too excited, but this could be the single best mechanism to save GA. I hope everyone here takes a few minutes to let your congressional representatives know that this is a good thing and that they need to support it.

    David
    I wouldn't go so far as to say it will save GA single handedly, but it sure improves the environment! Now we'll have to see how long it takes to get through the "process" but I will be joining you in keeping my House and Senate Reps aware of the need!

    Joe

  6. #6
    EAA Staff Tom Charpentier's Avatar
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    Just a note on contacting your reps/senators - Congress is heading into recess until after New Years, so we're delaying the big push for action until January when everyone is back in Washington. We will make a Rally Congress form available at that time, and of course you are always welcome to call, email, or write them on your own.

    Thanks for the enthusiasm you've already shown on this bill - it will be crucial moving forward.
    Last edited by Tom Charpentier; 12-11-2013 at 04:29 PM.
    Tom Charpentier
    Government Advocacy Specialist
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  7. #7
    David Pavlich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe LaMantia View Post
    I wouldn't go so far as to say it will save GA single handedly, but it sure improves the environment! Now we'll have to see how long it takes to get through the "process" but I will be joining you in keeping my House and Senate Reps aware of the need!

    Joe
    You're absolutely correct, Joe! However, this combined with other things like the advent of Shell and others close to offering 100 lead free and the like, it bodes well for GA. Ya' gotta' admit, things look just a little brighter than a month ago!

    David

  8. #8
    Mike Berg's Avatar
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    Am I missing something here? I was thinking something less than six seats, 6000# gross weight, 14,000 ft (Ox would be required) and 250 kts was the original proposal. Where did these new proposed standards come from? Seems like it would be a lot harder to get this through. All I'd like to do it fly a Cherokee 180, Cessna 150-172, etcl without jumping through the medical hoops for no useful propose.
    If God had intended man to fly He would have given us more money!

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Berg View Post
    Am I missing something here? I was thinking something less than six seats, 6000# gross weight, 14,000 ft (Ox would be required) and 250 kts was the original proposal. Where did these new proposed standards come from? Seems like it would be a lot harder to get this through. All I'd like to do it fly a Cherokee 180, Cessna 150-172, etcl without jumping through the medical hoops for no useful propose.
    This is the Bill written by two Congressmen, not the AOPA/EAA petition proposal. It is broader, but it won't get to the floor of the house for awhile...may go to some committee to review and recommend. Lots of process b/4 it becomes law. It will get interesting if it passes the house as a stand alone bill or gets rolled up in a big transportation Bill. Then the Senate will take a shot at it and maybe even pass it...then it goes to the President for signing or veto. We're not there yet, but it is a start after 2 years of the FAA sitting on the proposal. Remember your 8th Civics class on all the "Checks & Balances" it really is making sausage!

    Joe

  10. #10
    You can tell the FAAs antics over the last year or so has left them no longer in the good graces of either party in Congress. If they refuse to abide by their own rules and want to usurp Congress by setting up their own taxation without Congressional approval, Congress will act to smack them down. Depending on the level of support through Congress, this may be a ruse to push the FAA into acting on the EAA/AOPA proposal. On the other hand, if this picks up good bi-partisan support, you never know what might happen in politics. It may be interesting to watch.

    -CubBuilder
    Last edited by cub builder; 12-12-2013 at 01:03 PM.

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