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08/11/04 - EAA CONTINUES TO ADVOCATE ALTERNATIVES
FOR PROSPECTIVE SPORT PILOTS SEEKING MEDICAL REINSTATEMENT
In addition to reporting on the many opportunities for participation in aviation made possible by the new sport pilot/light-sport aircraft regulations, EAA leads efforts to resolve certain ambiguities in the applicability of the rule's medical certification provisions.
The FAA's interpretation of the rule is clear in allowing a valid driver's license to serve as sufficient evidence of medical eligibility for pilots already holding valid medical credentials and for first-time prospects aspiring to become sport pilots. Equally clear is the caveat that this provision does not apply to pilots whose medical eligibility the FAA has denied or revoked and who have not since reinstated medical eligibility through the special-issuance appeal process.
However, the specific recourses available to pilots who have FAA medical denials or revocations on file remain unclear. The FAA's preamble to the rule suggests that, in addition to the traditional special-issuance process for reinstating medical eligibility, the agency will develop a modified, or alternative, set of procedures specifically for those seeking medical reinstatement for sport pilot flying only.
EAA's government affairs and medical experts have met with top FAA officials to further develop implementation plans for the entire rule and to address specifically the question of pilots' options for reinstating medical eligibility. These discussions included a meeting among EAA Aeromedical Chairman Jack Hastings, EAA Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs Earl Lawrence, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, and Federal Air Surgeon Jon Jordan. A follow-up meeting between EAA's Aeromedical Council and FAA's medical staff focused intently on the medical qualifications issue.
In these and subsequent discussions, EAA asserted the need to tailor the special-issuance criteria for those willing to fly only within the domain of sport pilot operations. The FAA's responses demonstrate an understanding of EAA's position and the rationale behind it.
However, in response FAA officials raise several practical concerns. Among these is the question of whether building a process of earmarking requests for sport pilot medical credentials and segregating them from requests for third-class medical reinstatements would result in the creation of an unwieldy bureaucracy. Furthermore, the development of specific, modified criteria for evaluating sport pilot reinstatement requests poses challenges.
EAA believes these obstacles are surmountable. The process of exploring these issues is far from complete; FAA has agreed to additional discussions.
Meanwhile, individuals who are unsure of their FAA medical status can verify it through FAA. EAA’s sport pilot website also has instructions on how to take advantage of other EAA-provided advice, counsel, and resources to address medical issues related to the sport pilot certificate. These resources include referrals to EAA's corps of volunteer aviation medical examiner (AME) advocates and to physicians who are prepared to discuss an individual's specific circumstances.
Watch the EAA websites for new developments on this important issue as they unfold.