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FAA Third Class Medical Reform Effective May 1st

By Elizabeth A Tennyson, AOPA

Teams of AOPA experts are examining the Jan. 10 announcement, which at first look appears to closely mirror the legislation signed into law on July 15, 2016. Pilots should note that BasicMed will not be effective until May 1, so they cannot fly under the rule until then.

Affordable Rates for Pilots | No Aviation Exclusion “BasicMed is the best thing to happen to general aviation in decades,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. “By putting medical decisions in the hands of pilots and their doctors, instead of the FAA, these reforms will improve safety while reducing burdensome and ineffective bureaucracy that has thwarted participation in general aviation.”

In the near future, AOPA will be offering a free online medical course to let pilots comply with the BasicMed rules. The course is just one part of a range of AOPA’s Fit to Fly resources for pilots and physicians created to help people take full advantage of BasicMed. The Fit to Fly resources also include an interactive tool that helps you determine if you qualify for BasicMed as well as FAQs and other important information for you and your doctor.

Medical reform highlights:

Aircraft specifications: Up to six seats, up to 6,000 pounds (no limitations on horsepower, number of engines, or gear type)
Flight rules: Day or night, VFR or IFR
Passengers: Up to five passengers
Aeromedical factors: Pilots must take a free online course every two years and visit their personal physician every four years
Altitude restriction: Up to 18,000 feet msl
Airspeed limitation: 250 knots indicated airspeed
Pilot limitation: Cannot operate for compensation or hire

AOPA will closely review the new rule and keep members informed about flying under it.

“As with any regulation, the details are critical, and we’ll be carefully analyzing the rule and seeking clarification where needed,” said Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “We, along with our supporters in Congress, worked diligently to bring these reforms to pilots, and now we need to make sure they deliver the benefits lawmakers intended.”

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.

After meeting the initial requirements to fly under the reforms, pilots will need to visit a state-licensed physician at least once every four years and take the free aeromedical factors online course every two years. The course will be available for free on AOPA’s website. A certificate of completion of the course and the checklist from the physician must be kept in the pilot’s logbook. No information from the checklist you complete along with your physician is sent to the FAA.

“The course will put the focus on safety,” said AOPA Pilot Information Center Medical Certification Section Director Gary Crump. “We encourage members to take notes as they work though the course so they’re prepared to answer the questions at the end.”

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