WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act requiring that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reform general aviation medical standards to maintain safety while supporting capable pilots and sustaining economic growth in the industry.
“I urge the FAA to eliminate the bureaucratic barriers that discourage general aviation pilots and drive up costs, without improving safety. While the FAA announced last year that it would propose reforms, the agency is stalling and doing too little to give these aviators the certainty they deserve. This bill is a legislative solution that would provide safety and eliminate burdens which have proven unnecessary,” Boozman, a co-chair of the Senate General Aviation Caucus said.
Current law requires pilots flying certain aircraft to have a third class medical certificate. Over the last decade, 60,000 pilots left the industry, many due to the costly and time consuming process of obtaining a third class medical certificate. The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act expands on the success of FAA’s Sport Pilot rule that was adopted in 2004 and allows pilots to fly many types of small, light aircraft without a third class medical certificate but requires that all pilots undergo a flight review by a certified flight instructor every two years. During these biennial flight reviews, instructors will continue to evaluate each pilot’s physical and cognitive condition, as well as his or her ability to safely operate an aircraft. Small aircraft pilots would be required to maintain a valid driver’s license.
This legislation is supported by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).
“We appreciate Senator Boozman’s leadership in introducing his third-class medical reform bill again in this Congress. His efforts have spurred FAA into initiating rulemaking on this critical issue to the general aviation community. The current flight physical system for non-commercial pilots is labor-intensive and costly for both the FAA and the pilot community with no discernible safety benefit. The Boozman legislation offers a better way forward and, when combined with online courses that educate pilots to aeromedical risks related to issues such as over-the-counter medications and hypoxia, we can actually improve aviation safety,” General Aviation Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pete Bunce said. “We are grateful to Senator Boozman, a Co-Chair of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, for his continued advocacy on behalf of the general aviation community.”
Similar legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN).
The provisions of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act are also under consideration as a component of the Pilots Bill of Rights II, S. 571, which was introduced this week by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Boozman and a bipartisan coalition of their colleagues.