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07/20/04 – NEW ALTERNATIVES TO GIVE HOPE TO PILOTS PREVIOUSLY DENIED MEDICAL CERTIFICATES
July 20, 2004 - A recurring question regarding the newly released sport-pilot/light-sport-aircraft regulations pertains to the relaxed medical standards and, specifically, whether they apply to pilots whom the FAA previously has denied a medical certificate for a private pilot’s license.
The regulations are clear in the stipulation that, although a valid driver’s license will provide sufficient evidence of medical eligibility, FAA is obligated to require a reassessment of the medical eligibility of anyone whom the FAA previously identified as medically unfit to fly.
This reassessment requirement applies to pilots who have received a letter from the FAA indicating a DENIAL or REVOCATION of a medical certificate. It also applies to pilots who may have an FAA denial of medical eligibility on file because they chose to withdraw midstream from a special-issuance application process.
If you have received a denial letter from the FAA, you have two recourses to explore: 1) pursuing a third-class special issuance from the FAA through traditional channels, or 2) seeking a sport-pilot medical evaluation via a separate procedure that the FAA continues to design and develop.
The first alternative may prove a viable option for individuals whose longstanding denial relates to a condition for which medical advances have been made through a period of months or years. For example, as late as the mid- ’80s pilots received outright denials for diabetes. Today, this condition is not considered grounds for a denial once a treatment regimen is in place. EAA Aeromedical Website
The FAA alluded to the second alternative during its press conference to announce the new rule. The details of such a sport-pilot medical evaluation remain to be developed as part of the implementation of the final rule. The EAA Aeromedical Council has a long-standing history of working with the FAA Medical Office and will meet with FAA medical personnel to help develop the policy and procedures for this new type of evaluation.
In a statement issued today, FAA explained the rationale behind its development of this second alternative to help more prospective pilots reinstate their medical eligibility under the sport-pilot rule:
We understand that these conditions [the concerns of pilots with FAA medical denials on record] may not have been expected and may disappoint some people. That was not our intent, nor is it our intent that affected persons would have to maintain an airman medical certificate if they would rather use their current and valid U.S. driver’s license to medically qualify as a sport pilot.
We ultimately concluded that, in those cases where the FAA has existing knowledge of medical ineligibility, we need the affected person to address it and, hopefully, have it resolved. To meet the intent of the rule, the affected person should apply for reconsideration of his or her eligibility. In some denial cases, applicants simply may not have provided enough information to the FAA or may not have supplied information that the FAA may have requested. In certain other denial cases, applicants may not have exercised their appeal rights, which may have led to certification in some cases.
The FAA wants to see as many pilots as possible take advantage of this exciting new rule and looks forward to working with individuals seeking to exercise sport-pilot privileges. We also intend to work with EAA, AOPA, and other industry groups toward that end.
This alternative is not delineated in the sport-pilot/light-sport-aircraft rule. Instead, FAA is in the process of formalizing this option as a separate policy. EAA will continue to work with FAA on this and the many other procedures and policies that must be developed to make this new rule a reality.
For more information on medical-certification issues under the sport-pilot/light-sport-aircraft rule, see the F.A.Q. document that FAA provided to EAA.