FAA Promises -- And Delivers -- Changes

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For pilots discouraged by their encounters with government beauracracy, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey on Wednesday brought a morsel (or two) of hope. The agency has cut the time it takes to process special-issuance medical certificates from several months to an average of 16 days. Investments in new technology have paid off in making such change possible, she said. Further, many pilots will soon be able to cut back on the number of times they must visit an FAA medical examiner for a certificate renewal. The FAA plans to issue a proposed rule that would reduce the frequency of renewals from 6 months to 1 year for first-class certificate holders, and from 2 years to 5 years for pilots under age 40 who have third-class certificates. Blakey also said the number of conditions that can be approved for the special-issuance medicals has increased from 20 to 35.