Down to the wire before the FAA extension was to expire, third class medical reform was passed by the Senate and now signed into law by President Obama on Friday, July 15, 2016. Years for work went into pushing for the reforms by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA): “We did it together! Medical reforms are now the law, and that’s a big win for general aviation. This is the most significant legislative victory for general aviation in decades,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “These reforms will provide relief to hundreds of thousands of pilots from an outdated, costly and unnecessarily burdensome system. This legislation will strengthen the private pilot-private-physician relationship and improve awareness of medical issues throughout our community. It will help pilots save time, money and frustration.”
FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 gives the FAA a year to translate the new law into regulations although some say this might come as early as six months. Medical reform includes pilot self-certification as well as online aeromedical training every two years which will replace medical exams. Part of the third class medical reform allows a pilot to see a regular personal physician every 4 years instead of an examination with an AME (Aeromedical Examiner) and then to self-certify well-being before each flight.
Additionally, according to AOPA “Under the reforms, pilots who have held a valid medical certificate any time in the decade prior to July 15, 2016, may not need to take another FAA medical exam. The 10-year lookback period applies to both regular and special issuance medicals. Pilots whose most recent medical certificate was revoked, suspended, withdrawn, or denied will need to obtain a new medical certificate before they can operate under the reforms. Pilots who have never held an FAA medical certificate, including student pilots, will need to go through the process one time only.”
It’s a big win for General Aviation!