I received this today, both houses of the US Congress are now working bills to eliminate the private pilot medical requirement. So while neither bill has passed yet, it’s really looking promising that some progress will be made.
Do you happen to know why only for VFR? Especially in the US, with its higher IR percentage among private pilots?
Because there is a perception that more complex flight requires a higher medical standard.
No, I don’t understand that.
Perhaps one guess might be that they’re trying to do it in ‘building block fashion’: first the existing Sport Pilot certificate, then use that as a database for VFR in light aircraft, then use VFR as a database for IFR (or who knows what) as the next step.
Well, do you think they will drop it for commercial pilots? I doubt it. People flying in high altitude, fast aircraft near airliners will always need a medical. I am not suggesting it is true that a medical is required, just a political reality.
No, I don’t think they’ll ever drop the medical for commercial pilots. The reasoning behind the current initiative is that (1) Sport Pilot has proven its safe for light aircraft and (2) the elimination of a medical requirement will cover private flights by adults who can and should manage their own risk. Number 2 is important to the argument, and is the same reason the US currently has a relatively simple 3rd Class medical for private pilots, VFR or IFR.
I suppose aerobatics is the most physically demanding light aircraft activity (it tends to make me quite ill ) and that’s not usually done IFR, eh?
They can’t drop the Class 1 for commercial pilots because that would make them non ICAO compliant, unless the USA filed a difference to ICAO but I doubt anybody whose airspace US pilots fly into would swallow that.
Inside the USA, they can do what they like.
The USA has actually breached ICAO in many respects without filing a difference. It seems to have just happened over decades, without anybody in the FAA really thinking about it. Useful stuff like penetrating Class D on just a 2-way radio contact. Around 2010 I went to a presentation by a then FAA lawyer (India Pinkney) who explained that these things have just happened by accident and nothing can be done about it now. But it isn’t an issue inside the USA because so few US pilots fly abroad, so none of the other airspace owners (basically Canada, Mexico and some other places to the south) are concerned. Also most countries to the south of the USA have more pressing issues with the likely cargo being carried
Peter, lots of US pilots fly to Canada and Mexico. Within North America there are separate treaties or simply conventions that have nothing to do with ICAO. For instance N-registered amateur built aircraft fly to Canada and Mexico, no questions asked, flown by pilots holding a 3rd class FAA medical. Mexico keeps delaying ad infinitum the requirement for a 406-MHz ELT, which few US planes have. I imagine the same considerations would be extended to US private pilots without any medical, should this law come to pass. Few pilots would remember what ICAO means on the west side of the Atlantic, and I don’t think the regulators are overly concerned either. I think Ms. Pinkney, who BTW now works for the National Endowment for the Arts, was giving you a diplomatic reply in a diplomatic setting.
Between the US and Canada there are treaties in place, but the mindset in Mexico is far away from that of a European country, as I expect you’d imagine. I was once on an off-road motorcycle with no concessions or registrations for road use, and was hesitant to ride it on the roads 30 km into town for dinner. The locals explained to me that the road is very smooth, it wouldn’t hurt the motorcycle, so there is nothing to worry about. Practicalities tend to override legalities in Mexico, and for most people your brightly painted aircraft is pretty much just a flying version of the off road vehicles other Americans bring… unless they are in the Mexican Army, which has significantly different view due to the factors you’ve noted
US DOT issued the following as Item 22 in its April 2014 Significant Rulemaking Report, meaning that eliminating the Class 3 medical for some FAA private pilots has become a project within FAA. NPRM means ‘Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’.
22. Limited Private-Pilot Privileges for Pilots Who Do not Currently Hold an FAA Airman Medical Certificate (Private-Pilot Privileges without a Medical)
Popular Title: Private-Pilot Privileges without a Medical
Abstract: This rulemaking would consider allowing certain operations for individuals exercising private-pilot privileges without holding a current FAA airman medical certificate. The intended effect of this action is to provide relief from having to obtain a medical certificate for pilots engaged in low-risk flying, such as private pilots operating a small, general aviation aircraft.
Prompting action: Secretarial/Head of Operating Administration Decision
Legal Deadline: None
Rulemaking Project Initiated: 02/04/2014
Dates for NPRM:
To OST 07/03/2014
To OMB 08/04/2014
OMB Clearance 11/04/2014
Publication Date 11/10/2014
End of Comment Period 01/09/2015
Explanation for any delay: N/A
Federal Register Citation for NPRM: None
I see the American Medical Assoiciation (AMA) is opposed to eliminating the Private Pilot medical… What a surprise
I had my FAA Third Class medical today. The AMEs place is a few miles from my office so I did it before work. The time required from arriving at his office, to arriving at my office (including the exam and driving time after the exam) was 30 minutes. $125 cash in his pocket or about a $5/month ‘tax’ for the members of the AMA.