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Thread: Passage of the Third Class Medical Reform Bill Comments

  1. #1

    Passage of the Third Class Medical Reform Bill Comments

    Our Stuart Florida Chapter of the IMC Club meets the second Thursday of each month. At the last meeting we had a local AME come and speak to our members about the recent approval of the third class medical reform bill. Most of our members are in the age group where we had a lot of questions regarding how it would affect the pilot community, even though it has to eventually go through final FAA publication.

    It was a very informative meeting and I feel that when all the rules are set in stone, the final affect on anyone that wishes to take advantage of the ruling might as well consider either joining the ranks of LSA pilots or just continue getting a regular third class medical. The new ruling has been watered down from it's original intention when you get right down to it.

    First of all, even if a pilot has had a third class medical certificate issued within the previous ten years the hoops that he will still have to go through are going to be quite onerous. Not only will there be a continual need to take an online battery of health questionaries, but the pilot will have to visit their personal doctor to get a general heath sign off. Many doctors are going to be reluctant to put their license or reputation on the line when they realize they are signing off a pilot to fly.

    Our speaker is not only a AME, but an accomplished commercial pilot that flies an Aerostar. He said that when he signs off a pilot applicant for a third class medical it is really a very basic health exam which most normally healthy people can pass. He realized that we as pilots are normally anxious when we walk in to take a medical because we might not pass and our blood pressure might be high. But AMEs make allowances for this and might even have the applicant come back later or wait awhile before taking another reading.

    The biggest benefit that I think that the AME passed on to us was that an applicant should never accept a denial, but should request a deferral if there are ever any issues during the exam. From what I can pass on or gather from the meeting was that this is an accepted option that a pilot can opt for.

  2. #2
    gbrasch's Avatar
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    Good info, and it makes me wonder that it might just be easier for a lot of people to continue with the 3rd class exam.
    Glenn Brasch
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  3. #3

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    Thanks for the PIREP, Tom. My thinking is similar to yours -- a pilot might as well just (try to) keep their Third Class medical. I don't mind the computer based exam thing, but I wonder if my regular physician would be willing to sign off for a pilot to fly since he likely has very little experience in exactly what that means. AOPA has said they will have an educational campaign for doctors, to maybe that will help. I guess we will have to just see how it goes.

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    cwilliamrose's Avatar
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    The biggest difference is that if you have a problem passing the 3rd class exam (even a minor one) the FAA is immediately in your medical business. If a problem is discovered under the new rule you treat the problem and continue to fly without the feds getting involved.

    As I understand it the 10 year window is from the date you last held a valid medical, not from the date of issuance.

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    Seems like this has been diluted to the point where this is of no value..... Good going alphabet groups

  6. #6

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    One question I can t seem to get a straight answer to is that at my doctors office which is a teaching hospital, you don t get to see a doctor, you get to see a Nurse Practitioner. Can she / he sign off the required forms for the new exams ?

    Bill L

  7. #7
    Great question! The answer might come out in the final FAA ruling.

  8. #8
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    The passed bill dictates that it will have to be done by a "state-licensed physician." Unless the FAA decides to go rogue, a NP will not be allowed under the new rules. Congress made a lot of effort to ADD restrictions to the proposal from the original and I doubt the FAA is just going to disregard those.

  9. #9

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    That's not far from what I'd expect to hear from an AME.

    I share the other poster's concerns about why my physician will need to do, whether he'll be willing, and the general process involved. Heck, any change naturally involves some anxiety.

    But overall, I'm quite hopeful. I'm hopeful because the AME who talked to you is either misinformed or just substantially downplaying the troubles with the existing 3rd Class Medical. Like many, I'm on a Special Issuance, so I have at least my share of grief. For an absolutely stable "problem" that's treated without medication, I'm required to make a medically unnecessary visit to a specialist every year (and sometimes pay out of pocket -- because the visit is unnecessary), get a written sign-off from that doctor attesting that I'm complying with treatment, gather special documentation and records of my treatment, then visit my AME every year to fill out a bunch of extra paperwork. Every few years, I have to call AOPA and get help going through OK City's maze to get the AASI updated.

    It's expensive, it's a hassle, and it just plain does no good at all. The best you can say about it is that it encourages pilots to avoid seeing doctors and to lie on the 8500, because if you're ever found to have a minor problem, you're royally hosed.

    So, as I look at it, the worst case is that the final reform (due next summer, I think) is feeble, and I stay with the broken system I know and despise. The worst is no change at all. The best might be much better. That sounds hopeful to me.

  10. #10
    Sirota's Avatar
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    I've already talked to my AME about this. He also has a primary care practice and is my regular doctor too. I'll continue going to him. He says he has no hesitancy signing-off the new exam.

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