FAA Final Rule On New Medical Policy Published

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The full text of the FAA’s new final rule on pilot medicals was published Wednesday morning in the Federal Register, as the general aviation community continued to absorb and react to the news. The final rule, which takes effect on May 1, rewrites the FAA’s rules to comply with legislation that was enacted in July 2016. Under the new rule, pilots can choose to maintain their medical under the old rules, or to fly under the new program called BasicMed, which simplifies the process. “Teams of AOPA experts are examining the Jan. 10 announcement,” AOPA said on their website Wednesday morning. "As with any regulation, the details are critical, and we’ll be carefully analyzing the rule and seeking clarification where needed.” EAA also is taking a close look at the rule, and has posted FAQs on their website.

There will be no public comment period on the rule. In the Federal Register, the FAA says it decided that notice and the opportunity to comment “are unnecessary and contrary to the public interest in this action because the FAA has simply adopted the statutory language without interpretation and is implementing that language directly into the regulations.” Delaying implementation of this rule to allow for notice and comment would be contrary to the public interest as to do so would delay the new privileges Congress sought to provide, the FAA says. Nevertheless, EAA said, it “will be reviewing the language [of the rule] carefully to ensure it fully reflects the language and intent of the law.”

EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski told AVweb on Wednesday that so far, “response has been very positive…. Always some questions on specifics, but overwhelmingly high approval of the rule, and some surprise by individuals that everything hit the deadline set by FAA.” AOPA said it will publish an online medical education course through its Air Safety Institute that will help pilots to comply with the new rule. The course is free and you don’t need to be an AOPA member to access it. The FAA said it will publish an advisory circular describing the implementation of the rule later this week. Pilots should note that BasicMed will not be effective until May 1, so they cannot fly under the rule until then.

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