Another Stab At Driver's License Medicals

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Medical problems account for less than half a percent of aircraft accidents, according to both AOPA and EAA -- and if they won't do it in the face of that statistic, AOPA is hoping the FAA will reduce pilot medical requirements in the name of research. AOPA has offered to run a study on the impact of allowing student and recreational pilots use of their driver's licenses instead of an FAA medical certificate. For almost 20 years, the FAA has refused to budge on the issue of flight medicals for recreational pilots, despite repeated attempts to change their minds. Previously, AOPA appealed for a straight rule change. In this case it's looking for a two-year exemption for student and recreational pilots, during which they'd be required to submit reports to AOPA on their flight activities. AOPA plans to sort through all that data to prove that FAA medicals don't improve safety at that level. "AOPA is absolutely convinced that a driver's license can safely be used to set a minimum medical safety standard for student and recreational pilots," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "This study would prove it, once and for all." EAA tried a similar tack with the FAA last September, but we haven't heard anything since. EAA wanted a five-year medical exemption for recreational pilots only and also offered to collect and process data on the flight safety impact.