WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), the lead Senate sponsor of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act (S. 2103), responded to the announcement that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing reforms that could expand the light sport aircraft medical exemption to cover additional small aircraft and pilots.
“When we introduced our legislation last month, I urged the FAA to respond to the reasonable petitions that our pilots have submitted and to provide additional flexibility,” Boozman said. “I am glad to see that FAA has finally taken this initial step, and I look forward to hearing from pilots in Arkansas as they review this proposal.”
The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, S. 2103, 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 continue to evaluate each pilot’s physical and cognitive condition, as well as his or her ability to safely operate an aircraft.
S. 2103 would allow a pilot to operate as “pilot in command” of a small aircraft (up to 6 seats and 6000 pounds) without regard to a third class medical certificate, so long as he or she is: (1) not operating the flight for-hire; (2) operating under visual flight rules (VFR); (3) below a median sea level altitude of 14,000 feet; and (4) not flying at a speed in excess of 250 knots.
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).
“For a decade, sport pilots have flown safely without third-class medical certificates, and we’re confident private pilots can do the same. This issue is a top priority for AOPA members and we appreciate the FAA’s decision to move forward with rulemaking. We’re especially grateful to Reps. Rokita and Graves and Sens. Boozman, Roberts, and Moran for their leadership on medical certification reform. They understand the value of general aviation to the economy, the national transportation system, and the American way of life. And they recognize that expanding the third-class medical exemption will make it easier to get new pilots flying and keep experienced pilots safely in the air,” AOPA President Mark Baker said.
S. 2103 is bipartisan legislation, introduced by Boozman and Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) and cosponsored by Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jim Risch (R-ID) and Jon Tester (D-MT). Similar legislation, H.R. 3708, was introduced in the House by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN).