AMEs Fight Elimination Of Third Class Medical

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The president of the Civil Aviation Medical Association, the group that represents aviation medical examiners (AMEs), says doing away with the third class medical is a threat to public safety. Dr. Mark Eidson has written members of Congress urging them to vote against bills in front of both houses that would eliminate the third class medical for private pilots flying most single engine aircraft. In a letter to each member of both houses obtained by SeaplaneForum.com, Dr. Mark Eidson says the measure will "seriously threaten the safety of affected pilots, their passengers and the public below." Under H.R. 3708 and S.2103, a valid state driver's license would be proof of medical fitness for pilots flying aircraft with a gross weight of up to 6,000 pounds carrying a maximum of five passengers at 250 knots up to 14,000 feet day VFR. "Complete elimination of medical oversight for these pilots would constitute a clear and present danger to aviation safety, " Eidson wrote. The letter was dated the same day (April 2) the FAA announced a rulemaking process for relaxation of medical qualifications for some private pilots, something Eidson says his group endorses. 

In his letter (PDF), Eidson says CAMA's own task force on the issue has recommended "expanded recreational pilot privileges that would allow operation of larger aircraft at greater speeds with relaxed, simplified medical requirements," but medical oversight would be continued. In its carefully worded announcement of the rulemaking process, the FAA said it is "considering whether it can provide any relief to the medical requirement, while maintaining safety, prior to completion of the rule," Both EAA and AOPA say they're encouraged by the FAA announcement but waiting to see the details.