Regs And Age Put Spotlight On Sport Pilot

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The report pays more than passing attention to the recently-introduced sport pilot certificate, noting it allows pilots of "low and slow" light sport aircraft (LSA) to skip the biannual trip to an aviation medical examiner and use a driver's license as proof of medical fitness. The report says the new certificate "made it easier for graying pilots to obtain and keep licenses to fly certain smaller planes." However, AOPA President Phil Boyer pointed out that all pilots, regardless of age or certificate level, are responsible for self-certifying their medical fitness before every flight. The report noted that a valid medical may not always be proof of flight fitness and cited reports of pilots and doctors who had falsified medical records. Meanwhile, the FAA's top doctor says medical incapacity continues to be a minor factor in accidents. Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Jon Jordan did, however, suggest that we might be a little more error-prone and slower to react as we age. "We don't see too many aviation accidents that are related to a medical cause. The increase in accidents (with age) may be due really to cognitive factors," Dr. Jordan told the AP. AOPA's Boyer agreed. "There has been no history that having that medical exam creates a safer environment," said Boyer.