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New Medical Changes

This news item was clipped from the Airplane Owners & Pilot's Association (AOPA) web site at www.aopa.org about April 2007. It cites the first publication of the proposed changes that have been discussed numerous times in Aviation Medical Examiners (AME) meetings I have attended in the past several years. 

It essentially says that the Third Class will be every five years before forty years of age and the First Class will change to annually before forty.

I have mixed feelings about the reduced contact that the pilot has with a source of medical information and advice. I certainly understand that I look at the pilot from a fairly unique position as a 5000 hour tail dragger driver who has been flying for 50+ years and providing AME services for 40+ years. There have been several occasions where just being able to sit down with a pilot, put our feet up, and open the conversation to anything, has lead to deeper issues (i.e., stress, divorce, seeking dangerous "natural" or "alternative" treatments). I strongly feel that several old pelicans are still flying safely because of these sessions. Granted, the new proposed changes affect the younger age group (<40) who are healthy, "bullet proof", and consider the medical profession the natural enemy of the flyer. Sometimes us old "gray beard" docs, just like old gray beard pilots, are good to know.

This office is dedicated to keep you flying, not to keep you from flying.

Here is the AOPA Release

"FAA wants to extend the life of medical certificates for younger pilots"

Good news for younger pilots: The FAA is proposing to lengthen the duration of certain medical certificates. For pilots under age 40, the duration of third class medicals would go from the current three years to five years, and first class certificates would go from six months to one year.

There are indirect benefits for all pilots as well.

Since 1979, AOPA has supported such extensions in medical certificates. The last major change to pilot medical standards occurred in 1996 when the FAA extended the duration of third class medicals from two to three years for pilots in the under-40 age bracket.

"This is indeed good news from the FAA," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "Coupled with knowledge gained from the 'driver's license' standard for sport pilots and advancements in medical treatments in general, it should allow the FAA to make other changes beneficial to members in the future." Delays should decrease for special issuances...