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Abolish Medicals, Save Money

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The ever-fertile mind of David Wartofsky has come up with a way of framing the movement to abolish third-class medicals for private pilots in a way the FAA is sure to understand. In a letter headlined "Potential Cost Savings for the FAA" (PDF), Wartofsky, the outspoken owner of Potomac Airfield, urges John Porcari, the Deputy Secretary of Transportation, to scrap the biennial poke and prod in the name of fiscal restraint. "[The] workload for the FAA must be huge and cost a fortune to run," Wartofsky said. And he makes the case that maintaining the medical status quo hurts the FAA's bottom line even further by deterring participation in general aviation. "Just as any pilot matures in life to be able to afford their own small private aircraft their use of that asset becomes subject to the [biennial] roll of the dice by the aviation medical examiner," he said.

What's more, he said there's ample evidence the medical requirements have negligible impact on safety. He noted that in the seven years since the Sport Pilot certificate was introduced there has not been a single accident attributed to medical incapacitation and that's in a pilot population where at least some of the participants would not pass a regular medical. "If the third-class medical were preventing medical incapacitation LSA pilots ought to be falling out of the sky," he said. Wartofsky posted a petition on the FAA public docket calling for an end to medical oversight for those flying aircraft lighter than 6,000 pounds but it was denied by the FAA. EAA and AOPA have since jointly filed a petition with tighter requirements but there hasn't been word for some time about the initiative.

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