FAA Issues New GA Medical Rule

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The FAA third-class medical, which GA advocates have long lobbied against as a nuisance to pilots that does little to advance safety, has been replaced with a new option called BasicMed, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced on Tuesday. “The BasicMed rule will keep our pilots safe but will simplify our regulations and keep general aviation flying affordable,” Huerta said. Starting on May 1, pilots will have the option to maintain their 3rd class medical, or opt to use the BasicMed rule. Under BasicMed, a pilot will be required to complete an online medical education course every two years, undergo a medical exam every four years, and comply with aircraft and operating restrictions. The medical exam will include a four-page FAA form to be completed by your doctor and kept available by the pilot for FAA inspection. Your regular doctor can complete the form, and they don’t need to deal with the FAA at all.

The aircraft and operating restrictions under BasicMed include: pilots cannot operate an aircraft weighing more than 6,000 pounds and cannot have more than six people on board. IFR operations are allowed, but pilots must fly at less than 18,000 MSL and no faster than 250 knots. Pilots using BasicMed also cannot fly for compensation or hire. To qualify for BasicMed, pilots also must have held a medical that was valid any time after July 15, 2006. New student pilots must obtain a medical certificate, but then they can operate under BasicMed to keep it current. Pilots using BasicMed also must “make certain health attestations,” the FAA said, and agree to a National Driver Register check. General aviation advocacy groups are taking a close look at the FAA announcement, but so far reaction is upbeat.

"BasicMed is the best thing to happen to general aviation in decades," said AOPA President Mark Baker. "By putting medical decisions in the hands of pilots and their doctors, instead of the FAA, these reforms will improve safety while reducing burdensome and ineffective bureaucracy that has thwarted participation in general aviation." AOPA staffers are working to carefully analyze the rule and provide free online courses that will meet the FAA education requirement. EAA also welcomed the announcement. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, as the provisions of aeromedical reform become something that pilots can now use,” said Jack Pelton, EAA chairman. “EAA and AOPA worked to make this a reality in July, and since then the most popular question from our members has been, ‘When will the rule come out?’ We now have the text and will work to educate members, pilots, and physicians about the specifics in the regulation.”

Comments (58)

It's sort of like ObamaCare. It's 1/2 way to where we need to be. Many times, being 1/2 way to somewhere is worse than where you started from.

Posted by: Ken Keen | January 10, 2017 11:35 AM    Report this comment

Initial thought is why a "four-page FAA form?" I could see one or two but why four?

Posted by: David Whitehouse | January 10, 2017 1:25 PM    Report this comment

It will be interesting to see how Special Issuance medicals are handled. Haven't seen anything about that yet.

Posted by: Gary Bain | January 10, 2017 1:25 PM    Report this comment

Attestations? Right up there with "biennial". Once again the FAA raises the bar on my vocabulary.
I agree - this seems like 1/2-way to where we want to be. I guess that's the nature of progress.

Posted by: Bill Arcudi | January 10, 2017 1:34 PM    Report this comment

I hardly see this as an effort to "keep general aviation affordable", the cost of a medical is just noise in the overall cost of flying ... and this sounds more complicated than just going in for the medical. I guess it's a small step in some direction, hopefully it turns out to be the RIGHT direction.

Posted by: Gary Hayes | January 10, 2017 1:45 PM    Report this comment

4 page doc that my MD has to fill out????? This is nuts!!!!! nothing to celebrate for sure!!!

Posted by: Charles Heathco | January 10, 2017 1:50 PM    Report this comment

The big question, will your doctor fill it out and sign his name to it.. Is he held responsible??

Posted by: Ken Howland | January 10, 2017 1:54 PM    Report this comment

Great effort and hopefully it will work. But seems now I will be asking a doctor with no aviation experience or FAA background to sign a form that I am safe to go flying. And I don't see any guidance for the doctor on medical conditions that are unsafe for flying. So if one doctor will not sign I guess I can keep going to other docs until I find someone to sign the 4 page form!

Posted by: Kurt Hardgrave | January 10, 2017 1:58 PM    Report this comment

Does your doctor have to "attend" the proper procedures classes to fully understand and implement the simplified FOUR page form?? And will he or she be required to have a personal liability policy to cover a miss directed outcome?? Just asking.....

Posted by: John Nauerth III | January 10, 2017 1:59 PM    Report this comment

Looks like option 1 for me, 3rd class medical. One call every two years, 30 minute exam, $100. and done.

Posted by: Marc Leasa | January 10, 2017 2:02 PM    Report this comment

Where can one download the 4 page doc for your doc?

Posted by: Paul Madden | January 10, 2017 2:04 PM    Report this comment

There is over reaction here:

1. The new rule is an option, if you don't like it, continue to get a regular FAA Medical.
2. The 4 pages: the current FAA Form 8500-8 is four pages: 2 pages instructions, 1 page for the applicant and one page for the MD. We don't know what the form look like, but most likely will be similar.
3. If you or your MD have an issue signing the form, got to an AME and ask for medical exam under the new rule (after 1 May 2017). I'm sure that he or she will be willing to oblige.

Posted by: LUCA BENCINI TIBO | January 10, 2017 2:08 PM    Report this comment

If the rules are now complete, why do we have to sit and wait for another four months?

Posted by: Jan Jansen | January 10, 2017 2:11 PM    Report this comment

I agree with both David and Ken above and would like to add that the FAA has worked their magic to make what could have been a simple process complicated to the point that it is more appealing to just do it the old way. I can only hope that AOPA and EAA along with other organizations don't get too busy patting themselves on the back before they take a close look at it and get it fixed the way it was intended.

Posted by: Paul Dutcher | January 10, 2017 2:13 PM    Report this comment

I thought originally there would be a 10 question form for your doctor to fill out. Somehow that seems to have grown to 4 pages.

Posted by: Richard Warner | January 10, 2017 2:25 PM    Report this comment

Typical foot dragging stall till the last minute government Bureaucracy! This is the " I am from the government and am here to help you". Enough of my sour grapes, this is better late than never and it is going to get me flying again with out jumping through due to non issues of things like prostrate cancer!

Posted by: JAMES CASEY | January 10, 2017 2:26 PM    Report this comment

Reminds me of the old joke where the guy's doctor says "well, there's bad news and worse news"

"What's the bad news?"

"You have cancer."

"Uh, what's the worse news?"

"You have Alzheimer's"

"Oh, well, at least I don't have cancer!"

Posted by: karl schneider | January 10, 2017 2:33 PM    Report this comment

Wow, I now go to the doctor half as often, but I have to now deal with a bunch more forms and regulations?

Also, i can't go over 18,000 feet if I do this? 18 to 22 is the least use sky in the country already.

Only a bunch of lobbyists and bureaucrats call this reduction. I'm happy for anyone this actually helps, but I'm likely to just use the old system if I start flying again.

Posted by: Eric Warren | January 10, 2017 2:49 PM    Report this comment

Just looked at the Federal Register. It's not there!!! Go FAA!!!

Posted by: Rodney Ghearing | January 10, 2017 2:56 PM    Report this comment

I asked AOPA what exactly was the "clinical evaluation" now required for the special issuance under this new program. I had a bypass 3 years ago. My cardiologist has declared me to be in excellent cardio health even saying "you're healthier than me". He would be delighted to issue a letter to that effect. I assumed that this new program, as it was preached, would indeed be a health evaluation by your personal physicians and their declarations regarding my good health would make me good to go. Not! AOPA says that the "clinical evaluation" for the one time special issuance continues to be no change from before. Reams of paperwork from before and after my bypass, and non insurance covered cardiac testing exactly as was previously required. So, for me to get a one time SI, I still need to put out about five grand to cover the requirements of the simplified "clinical eval". I'll just keep flying my Aeronca as a sport pilot. Oh...and my family doctor said he would not be able to administer an aviation medical exam anyhow.

Posted by: Roger Anderson | January 10, 2017 3:01 PM    Report this comment

Typical government: your doctor, after a thorough exam, is supposed to fill out a 4 page form for free? What nonsense. The AOPA needs to quit breaking its arm bragging about this piece of junk

Posted by: David Brown | January 10, 2017 3:09 PM    Report this comment

Leave it to the FAA to make it more complicated than necessary. The original proposal just wanted to expand the Light Sport rules to include slightly faster and heavier airplanes.

Posted by: Lloyd Emberland | January 10, 2017 3:11 PM    Report this comment

Maybe I don't quite get it, but this rule seems to deliver on the promise of an alternative to the 3rd class medical. What's a 4 page form ? Probably it would not change appreciably between "certifications" for most, and no application to the FAA. I write extensive treatment plans on 20 sick patients a day and it takes about 12 hours. It may be ok to stop complaining just a little. Let's ask Paul Bertorelli.

Posted by: Marc Curvin, MD | January 10, 2017 3:30 PM    Report this comment

I agree with everyone on this forum who sees this as a long time and a lot of effort, resulting in nothing much. Personally, I'd rather just go pay my $80 bucks every two years and continue to fly without the restrictions and four page report. I guess AOPA has to be Rah-Rah for this because it's been a big thing for them, but it misses the mark terribly. This was touted as "self certification" for third class, simple, no cost, it's just a ridiculous run around and more government double speak.

Posted by: Jim Wilson | January 10, 2017 4:16 PM    Report this comment

Truck drivers go to the DR once a year and get their BP, eye, hearing and heart checked, get signed off the same as pilots. . The truck drivers are responsible for tremendous loads, traffic problems etc.too. How come GA pilots have to jump through major hoops for the same exam?

Posted by: Richard K | January 10, 2017 4:34 PM    Report this comment

Hopefully this will be reasonably implemented.

I lost my flying RIGHTS for 2.5 months while the FAA jerked off after my doctor prescribed a blood pressure medicine that wasn't allowed. Even though my AME immediately took me off that medicine and it was out of my body in 3 days.

Totally incompetent of the FAA and unnecessary! Good riddance to the 3rd class Medical!

Posted by: Bob Toxen | January 10, 2017 4:57 PM    Report this comment

I'm surprised at all the negativity here. Can't we just wait and see how this all plays out in practice? Maybe it will need some fine-tuning. That can be dealt with. Oh, and that four-page form? Just because it's four pages doesn't necessarily mean that it's complicated. We'll know when we see it.

Posted by: Bill Menzel | January 10, 2017 4:58 PM    Report this comment

Quote I'm surprised at all the negativity here. Can't we just wait and see how this all plays out in practice? Maybe it will need some fine-tuning. That can be dealt with. Oh, and that four-page form? Just because it's four pages doesn't necessarily mean that it's complicated. We'll know when we see it.
Quote

We can wait and see how it turns out--that sounds like how Obamacare was sold to us dupes.

Posted by: RICHARD WELSH | January 10, 2017 5:44 PM    Report this comment

I have been flying since the early 70s. I have never heard of someone being ramp checked for a medical unless they had an incidence or accident. If you carry this form from your Dr. in your log book I will bet no one ever asks for it.

Posted by: Michael Luggelle | January 10, 2017 6:13 PM    Report this comment

What a bunch of whiners. I don't care if I have a medical or not, gonna fly anyway. At least there is an alternative to the third class and who cares if it's four whole pages.

Posted by: William Rucker | January 10, 2017 6:39 PM    Report this comment

Doubtlessly this was pushed by a clique of deep-pocketed lobbyists who can't pass a medical anymore, but have managed to buy a LOT of political influence. While I'm a strong advocate of REASONABLE medical standards that are based on reality, this is a step in the WRONG DIRECTION.

Cost? LUDICROUS! The expense to obtain an exam from an AME is NEGLIGIBLE compared to the cost of renting from an FBO, or taking more than a couple of hours of dual. And we've all seen FBOs and flight schools who will stretch a BFR, IPC or nominal 3-hr checkride prep into MANY more hours for the sole purpose of keeping the student/client in the role of cash cow. And the whole Sport Pilot ticket... how about THAT one? Originally intended to be the not-so-rich guys' ticket to timebuilding at less extortionary cost, it has instead morphed into the rich-guy's end-run around the medical system when he can't pass a medical anymore but still has more money than sense. I envision a similar array of unintended consequences.

Posted by: William Saltiel-Gracian MPH | January 10, 2017 6:43 PM    Report this comment

In summary, as I see it, it changes the need for a medical from 2 years to 4 years, and the results are not sent to FAA. It changes the need for a Special Issuance from twice to once, if one is required. The ability to find a doctor who will do this certification might be more difficult if you don't go to an AME, and the length of the physical if done by an non AME will probably be more involved and then at a higher price. For some folks, good. But otherwise, three or four years of bull as this transpired. As someone said, AOPA, don't break an arm patting yourself.

Posted by: Roger Anderson | January 10, 2017 6:47 PM    Report this comment

I see an advantage here that is not reflected in Roger Anderson's comments. If you have a GP who is willing to certify you and you have insurance that will cover a yearly checkup you can get this service covered by insurance, which you could not do for a standard 3rd class or higher medical.

Posted by: GEORGE HUNT | January 10, 2017 7:58 PM    Report this comment

Even knowing this rule was pending, I just got my medical renewed last month. 80 bucks for a comprehensive eye exam I'd pay more for elsewhere, just for that. And my AME reminded me that, when you get a medical, the FAA is certifying that your general health meets the requirements to fly. He mentioned that, in the future, if someone who uses the new program has an accident and others in the aircraft are injured/killed, it may be an issue. Yes, I know that we pilots "self-certify" every time, before we get in the airplane, but the AME predicted there may be liability issues in the future for some who have forgone the medical. All I know is that I got mine, no restrictions, no hassles, no problem.

Posted by: CRISTA WORTHY | January 10, 2017 8:21 PM    Report this comment

Ok, just as we feared/expected/knew, the FAA destroyed this with no effort at all. It was a mess to begin with and now it's even worse: 4 pages, really?? My doctor already said no to it as he fears liability issues...and any doctor with a brain will do the same.

All you folks talking about how great this is(AOPA,etc.) need to get over it already: THIS DOES NOT WORK FOR NEW PILOTS. It does NOTHING to entice them to fly. NOTHING. You still need a medical from an AME, plus you still need to get past an SI if need be(this was supposed to fix that, remember??), and the cost of that nightmare is an all too real reminder of why change was needed in the first place.....and this farce is no change at all. This is still a joke, as is GA in the USA. Once again, just like Sport Pilot, this only benefits old folks who want to keep on flying, period. Wish this was different, but as is the usual in GA, it's not. Stop trying to sugar coat this mess, it's a failure all around.

Posted by: Michael Livote | January 10, 2017 9:04 PM    Report this comment

Wow, what a bunch of whiners. I thought you folks were pilots. If I'm not mistaken (and maybe now I'll decide I am) pilots usually think things out and get all the information before jumping to conclusions. For example:
1. The current medical form is 4 pages, half of it instructions. Is the new form the same? I don't know and neither do you. If you don't like the new form after you see it, go get a standard 3rd class medical.
2. For those of you complaining about Obamacare, one of the provisions of Obamacare is that your annual physical has to be free. Since your doctor can do this as part of your annual physical, that means that Obamacare now pays for your flight physical. Scary, huh?

Posted by: Jonathan Spencer | January 10, 2017 10:48 PM    Report this comment

The full rule (78 pages) is available at (https) federalregister.gov/d/2016-31602
It's scheduled for publication in the Federal Register 1/11/17.

Posted by: Sam Sun | January 10, 2017 10:50 PM    Report this comment

I'm with Jonathan. I don't 'get' what all the whining is about.

1. If nothing else, BasicMed extends the validity period of a third class medical for anyone over 40 from two years to four. Since most of the people wanting this 'relief' are likely over 40, THAT -- in itself -- is progress. Whatever you pay for a third class AME exam has now essentially been halved. IF you've had any borderline issues, this'll likely keep you flying twice as long until you have to "worry" again.

2. If you own or rent an airplane that fits the limitations -- which is most of us -- you can keep flying it by taking the online course every two years. (Not yet clear if the four year visit to your physician will negate that requirement every other two years?)

3. Sport Pilot was supposed to be a cheaper entry path to aviation but -- in practice -- was used by aging pilots to keep flying without a medical. The problem was, the price of a decent LSA is ridiculous when considering its performance and usefulness. Those who own GA airplanes -- like myself -- wanted a way to keep flying them until THEY decided it was time to hang up the headsets. BasicMed will allow that if you pass the private physician exam every four years. (I assume you have to 'pass' or else the doctor won't sign it?)

4. Many physicians who do AME exams do it for added revenue. The word will get out fast that doing the four year physical is a way for more doc's to make $ AND pilots will figure out who to go see or avoid.

4. If you're under 40, the third class AME medical is valid for five years. After it expires, BasicMed would allow taking the online course after two more years. So -- in practice -- anyone under 40 with a regular third class could essentially fly for nine years before seeing a doctor again after passing a normal AME exam.

Bottom line ... BasicMed takes us from valid for two or five years to four or nine years between doctor visits. If you're in decent health, take an AME exam instead of the regular doctor visit if you don't like the four page checklist idea.

Anyone thinking THAT isn't progress maybe needs to be checked for FAR 67.307a(2) compliance?

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 11, 2017 3:23 AM    Report this comment

I personally spoke with Sen. Inhofe at Airventure 2016. He told me that his colleagues wouldn't sign on to support him unless the legislation contained some sort of medical exam. The golden opportunity of re-funding the FAA and attaching PBOR II was too good to pass up so he agreed. So if ya'll need someone to blame ... it's them.

It would have been superb if BasicMed would have been an expansion of the Sport Pilot rule but -- likely because we're talking 6,000 pound airplanes and five PAX plus the pilot -- they had to include some sort of medical exam. Had they made the compliant airplane lighter with four PAX, maybe they could have done that. But then Bonanza and Baron drivers would have been mad. It's tough to please everyone. Remember that -- at one point -- there was talk of allowing no medical flight in four place 200hp airplanes but limiting them to one passenger, like LSA. This seems better, I guess.

With a new Administration coming in who has pledged to be user friendly along with simplifying Government ... if this isn't quite right, maybe we can get them to 'tweak' it ? Sen. Inhofe will be in office four more years during two more Congress' until late 2020, as well.

Finally, remember that the FAA has been making simple stuff hard since 1958.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 11, 2017 4:05 AM    Report this comment

It's not ideal, but it's a lot better than we had. Yes, maybe you will have to spend $5 k to get all the cardio workup done for a SI, but at least you won't have to do it every two years! And - although the legislation didn't explicitly require it - the FAA has decided to change the rules so you can use the new medical during the checkride for new ratings (which previously explicitly required a Class III).

This isn't ideal, but it is a BIG improvement.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | January 11, 2017 7:22 AM    Report this comment

Part 1 of 8:

Please forgive the rather long 'Rant' that's about to follow. (and the 8-part format, as this venue only seems restricted to 500 word posts) But while some posting here are seeing clearly, it seems that many still don't (or just don't want to) ...'Get-it'.

"The BasicMed rule will keep our pilots safe but will simplify our regulations and keep general aviation flying affordable," Huerta said.

...and there's just no way to "sugarcoat" my response to that hogwash;

Robert Goyer, formally of 'Flying' magazine and now with 'Plane and Pilot' observed (in a most politically correct fashion) of this wonderful development: "The new rules are a lot more complicated than any of us would have wished for". The understatement of the century concerning this 'sham' legislation which is, as any reasonably intelligent person could see, essentially little more than the 'passing-of-the-buck' which in reality will do very little for the many of us who've waited so anxiously for it to come to fruition. Nor I fear will it do the slightest thing to reverse the final nails being driven, concerning the death of 'General Aviation' in this country.

Unless I read AOPA's Q&A incorrectly, we are essentially 'substituting' an FAA designated Medical Examiner with a 'civilian' Physician. In our hyper-litigious society (especially in the area of 'Medical Malpractice') after the 1st. lawsuit is filed ...it'll all be over. As always, it really won't matter on the technicalities of the law in this instance (as is the case for most 'lawsuits') as in our country, it's always, unfortunately, been about one thing ...money. Even with the most frivolous of lawsuits, and/or more often even the 'threat' of them, the costs are usually outrageous ...and too many Physicians have already had their fill.

I sincerely hope ...wish, to be proved wrong. ...probably should know better.

But there's still just one more 'minor' reality, that so many folks, (commenting here and elsewhere) it appears, just don't (or won't?) seem to 'get'.

And I say this as a (hopeless) Aviation romantic, and (retired) Professional Pilot. Humbled by a wide range of experience from Skydiving to Airline flying ...and a 25+ year member of both AOPA & EAA:

Let's have a look at the two 'Grass-Roots' 'Non-Profit' organizations, that are supposed to be representing the (now just about extinct) 'Average Joe' 'GENERAL Aviation' pilot that had the most hands in initiating, pushing and following through on this so-called "most significant legislative victory for general aviation in decades."

AOPA and EAA

...continued next;

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 8:31 AM    Report this comment

Sorry Folks ...but, for some reason, no matter what I attempt, this 'site' will not seem to allow me to continue with the 'rest' of my post

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 9:07 AM    Report this comment

...continued last Part 2a of 8:

AOPA and EAA ...currently headed by (appointed, NOT member voted) ex-Corporate CEO's still drawing (absurd) CEO level wages from NON-PROFIT 'Associations' Average-Joe members, flown around in mega-expensive, Turbine (Corporate) aircraft doing OUR? 'Business' in expensive, lush resorts, provided and paid for by said membership, who are shamelessly deluged by the Association and its 'affiliates' with weekly solicitations for 'goods & services', and have in fact, ironically, become one of the many active and willing participants in the demise of 'General Aviation' ...unfortunately, part of the problem, certainly NOT the solution.
We're told this excess is justified, in fact required, so that we can have people "experienced" with the ways of Washington, (Corporate) lobbying and (Big) Business in order to have (OUR?) voices heard and issues addressed. (sound familiar?) When the perverted reality is that it's just this type of 'Mind-Set' this (USA?) 'Corporate Mentality" (pursuit of 'profit' solely for its own sake) that's been the primary contributor to the Graveyard Spiral 'General Aviation' has been unable to recover from.

Mr. Peltons last gig was with Cessna Aircraft Company, who like Piper, and others in the 50's, 60's & 70's not only supported, but actually 'CREATED' a market for 'General Aviation' by providing aircraft, not only for the affluent, but airplanes that the 'Average-Joe', albeit with a little sacrifice, could actually afford, now gives us the $400,000+ venerable C172. A basic, simple, single-engine, 4-place, fixed gear/prop, low-HP 'Light Airplane'. One whose basic airframe's been around for over half a century and whose R&D, tooling and most other initial development costs have long since been paid for many times over, decades ago. Essentially a (very) old airframe design with a few tweaks, upgraded to some modern avionics (which also SHOULD cost substantially less than their steam-gauge, analog counterparts)

...continued next;

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 9:13 AM    Report this comment

...continued last Part 2b of 8:

If one follows (Aviation related) news, it's been reported that the elite Business (Aviation) club is also experiencing a bit of drop in membership (revenues) these days. By forgetting its core roots and the re-inventing of itself into a 'profit-solely-for-its-own-sake' 'business' model, perhaps the 'General-Aviation' INDUSTRY is now finally beginning to feel the effects of its shortsightedness, in painting itself into the very limited little corner it's only now beginning to realize it's in?!?

It 's appalling the manner in which our 'Industry', in its present incarnation, shamefully perpetuates the illusion it hasn't (deliberately) mutated into something totally unrecognizable from how it was born and existed for the better part of the last century. Now destined, by design and careful maintenance, to cater solely to an extremely small, 'elite', and most affluent segment of our society. A perfectly constructed, self-perpetuating, insulated 'bubble', what was once a great, vibrant, perpetually growth potentiated and mostly unique to the USA phenomena ...'General Aviation'.

Deliberate 'spin', outright propaganda, or just plain 'denial'?

...continued next;

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 9:14 AM    Report this comment

...continued last Part 3 of 8:

Most of Europe and all of present day Asia have no (and really never had any) such thing as 'General Aviation' ...solely because of the PROHIBITABLY EXPENSIVE costs. Their citizens have long been coming here to pursue that dream we've all taken for granted! (but even that may change ...read: practically grind to a halt, now that the new draconian EASA Flight Crew licensing regs have kicked in) Active participation in our wonderful world of 'Flight' here in the USA has always been on the (relatively) expensive side, but up until recently remained the best (and only) place on the planet to do so.

But! ...let's take a hard look at what 'we' (US General Aviation) have allowed to happen:

...In 1979/80, the peak of GA aircraft production, almost 20,000 piston airplanes rolled off the assembly lines with a US population of about 200 million. The average price of an airplane was 2-3 times that of a new car.

...In 2013, with a population of just over 300 million people, about 500 pistons were produced/delivered each year ...and the average prices are 2-3 times the (median) price of a (equally over-inflated) house!

First of all 'General Aviation' is doing just fine ...never better in fact. That is if when you say "General Aviation" ...you mean the 98 percent of GA which consist of 'executive' aircraft. Ninety eight (98) percent of the GA industry's annual revenue now comes from Turbine aircraft (Bizjets and Turboprops)

According to GAMA Statistics; In 1978 there were over 14,000 piston singles produced and just over 2,600 twins, for a total dollar value of just over $1 billion in 1979 dollars ...which is about $3.6 billion in today's dollars.

Total 'Turbine' GA aircraft produced were 779 with a total value of $772 million in 1978 dollars ...which is about $2.8 billion in today's money.

So the 'little guy' was THE major source of revenue for the GA industry as late as 1978 ...not the business bigwigs . That says a lot about where we where and where we have come to. Of course back then the head of the company made maybe 15-20 times as much as the Joe on the shop floor ...what is it today?

Let's look at those numbers a little more closely; The average cost of that executive airplane (the turbine variety) was just under $1 million ...about 3.5 million in today's dollars. Today the average sticker price is $10+ million.

The average cost of a piston plane in 1978 was $58,000 (INCLUDING light to medium twins and all the high end singles) which is about $200,000 in today's money. If we could separate the twins from the singles we would find the average piston single price would be closer to $90,000 ...in today's dollars.

...continued next;

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 9:15 AM    Report this comment

...continued last Part 4 of 8:

Now what really bears notice is the fact that those 30 some years ago, there were far less than 1,000 big spenders who could spend the equivalent of $3.5 million in today's money for a Bizjet or Turboprop ...but there were 17,000+ little guys who could afford to buy a piston single or even a light twin ...over 2,600 twins. Who has gained and who has lost?

Well the 'GA' Industry is doing nicely. It has increased sales from $3 billion a year in today's dollars to well over $20 billion.

The big spenders also don't seem to be doing too badly. There's now over 2,000 of them buying a new executive airplane every year (almost three times as many) ...and paying more than three times as much on average for the airplane ...a nearly tenfold increase in spending power by the big spenders.

Let's just repeat that ...A NEARLY TENFOLD INCREASE IN SPENDING POWER.

At the same time (light) piston airplanes, which made up more than 60 percent of 'General Aviation' ...60 percent! ...even as late as 1978, today make up just TWO lousy percent (2%) of sales by dollar. Want to buy a new airplane Joe? ...can you write a check for $500,000?

What it all adds up to is that the rich have gotten much richer ...while the middle class dream of airplane ownership is toast. It's not surprising that most if not all of our Industry publications are funded almost entirely by big spending 'Business Aviation' ...and continues to deliberately confuse things by lumping us 'little' aviators on life support in with the rest of 'GA'.

Please!! ...it is time for some 'Honesty'!

And please forgive me, as I really don't wish to sound sarcastic, but it's just mind-boggling to a (simple minded?) guy like myself how casually, and with such cavalier so many 'representatives' of the Aviation Industry quote prices for production, the average 'Light Sport', or any other 2-4 place 'Light Airplane'. What a perfectly reasonable price ($150-200K) to pay for a (new) 'Light Sport' airplane ...or the $400+K for a "moderately tricked out Cessna 172″ ...or the 1.2 mil!!?? for a SENECA, version 5 recently reviewed in AOPA Pilot, (another 45+ year old, basically unchanged airframe design) ...I mean, what's wrong with that ...isn't that just about right ...why ain't everybody buyin' em?!?

How can such sums for such airplanes ever be (reasonably) justified?? And we wonder why new pilot certification is half what it was just two decades ago?? Why (aircraft) rental rates have gotten beyond the reach of most would be Sunday Flyers?

What could possibly be causing this decline in our beloved activity?!? ('Private/Recreational Aviation')

...continued next;

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 9:16 AM    Report this comment

...continued last Part 5 of 8:

In most all other industries that are a factor in every other facet of our lives (save for our uniquely corrupt Health-Care 'Industry') ...one that bears mention is the financial industry. Every product we buy has over 30 percent of its price, on average, built in for finance overhead that it took to bring that product to market. In some cases it's much higher ...interest charges, brokerage fees, etc. Yet even with all that financial overhead, a lot of consumer products still deliver more for your inflation adjusted buck than they did 15 to 20 years ago. That's a fact. Cars bought today are a far better value for the dollar, same with the lawn tractor, the big screen TV, the washing machine, etc.

The 'Litigation' blamers (although the uncontrolled explosion of all the greed-laden 'Product Liability' lawsuits many (airplane manufacturers) have had to endure these last few decades are the ONLY thing Cessna, Piper etc. can legitimately claim to have been "victimized" by ...are a legitimate factor in the increase of Certificated Aircraft prices, to a (relatively) small degree. But they don't 'get it' either, or are just being incredibly disingenuous.

And before you start 'raving' about the unique and "excessive regulatory" environment that aircraft manufacturers have to endure ...they were ALL operating under those basically unchanged set of rules way back in the 70-80's as well ...so what exactly did change??

....how prey-tell did they ever manage to produce, create and sustain that kind of a market back then?!??

...and profit!

The only thing today that costs five times as much as it did 30 years ago is a new airplane. Talk all you want about the cost of hangars, fuel, insurance, maintenance etc. ...those things are a fact of life everywhere, but it is new and AFFORDABLE products that drive an industry. And unfortunately, the personal 'Recreational Airplane' industry is finished because the average price of a new 4 place piston airplane is half a million+ dollars ...which less than 1.5% of the population could ever afford/justify.

That is strictly an 'Industry' issue. If the automotive industry wanted to build an airplane for $50,000, do you think they couldn't? ...sure they could. And they would sell who knows how many thousands at that price.

But does anyone really not believe that Cessna could indeed manufacture, and sell a new 172 for $125 -150K (or a 152 for $60-$70K) ...and realize a 'reasonable' profit per unit??

Cessna, like Piper, Beechcraft and others decided, long ago, that Corporate (Turbine) aircraft is "where the monies at" (and an extremely lucrative amount of money at that) And the LSA ('Industry') which was supposed to be GA's "savior" has, it seems, quickly succumbed to the disease ...behold the Cub Crafters Carbon Cub An even simpler TWO place, basic, fixed gear, fixed prop, low HP 'LIGHT SPORT' airplane with a basic avionics package for the bargain price of only 200K!

...continued next;

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 9:18 AM    Report this comment

...continued last Part 6 of 8:

This is what has been/is still primarily responsible for the demise of 'General Aviation' ...as those of us who numbered among what was generally perceived to make up its largest segment during the 60's, 70's and into the early 90's have been so fortunate to have been a part of.

The 'Experimental' 'Industry' has been equally infected ...as for the all of those available 'Kits' out there today. Realistically, even a modest, two place, fixed gear/prop with a basic IFR panel (that by reg, one actually can't utilize for it's designed purposes) 140+ kt airplane most often sports (pun intended) a finished price of close to 100K ...many others almost twice that! But don't forget ...ya still have to build (and maintain) it yourself!

The aircraft industry now looks at things differently; The 'GA' (BUSINESS) aircraft industry makes over $20 billion a year in revenue by selling 2,000 executive aircraft at an average price of $10 million each. In order to make $20 billion in sales selling (little)airplanes, even at $100,000 apiece, they would have to sell 200,000 small airplanes a year. That's never going to happen ...there simply aren't 200,000 people who are interested in buying their own airplane each and every year ...or have the extra $100,000 lying around to do so. So the numbers are woefully against the 'rest of us' ...that is the reality.

We must all come to grips with the fact that 'General Aviation' is now solely 'Business Aviation' ...NOT the little guys flying around for personal or 'recreational' purposes in Cessnas & Cherokees. That is not what 'General Aviation' is anymore. The 'Aircraft Industry' sure knows this ...and that's why they made the (rational?) choice that it is not worth it.

And the "BasicMed rule will simplify our regulations and keep general aviation flying 'affordable'," ...and help save 'General Aviation'??

Repeat: General Aviation is now 'Business Aviation' ...Long Live The King!

And while I'm not so naive (or young and foolish) or unappreciative to not understand that it was (is?) the engine of 'Capitalism' that made 'GENERAL' Aviation attainable to most of the masses in the first place, and 'Business Aviation' was indeed a (if not "The") very large and essential part of 'General Aviation' which fueled that engine ...unfortunately, it has become (painfully) obvious to me (and I suspect more than just a "vocal minority" of our "community") that the US Aviation 'Industry', along with its publications and all of our 'alphabet 'Associations', and dare I postulate, even the EAA, all who've been a welcomed part of my life during my 40 year love affair with Aviation, have morphed into what indeed it seems 'Corporate America' has equally mutated into ...'Business' entities, again whose SOLE purpose appears to be the pursuit of profit ...SOLELY for its own sake, and the unlimited enrichment of their upper echelons.

...But I digress.

...continued next;

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 9:19 AM    Report this comment

...continued last Part 7 of 8:

Well, so that's the problem. And now at least knowing what the problem is just maybe we can start looking for solutions. But the solution is not to just root for 'Business Aviation' ...and bankroll their lobbying fights in rotten DC. And yes ...as has just become overwhelmingly apparent with our last election fiasco, WDCorruption is a very real truth. Unfortunately, it is exactly that kind of lobbying of (our) 'Special Interest' groups that is/has been the problem.

And the little guy (privately) flying around in piston airplanes is all but extinct already. That's why we hear the message all the time that what is good for 'Business Aviation' is good for the little guy. This has been a mantra at 'Flying' (magazine) publications for quite some time ...even as the little guy aviator continues to wither away ...while Bizav continues to grow and prosper.

In the late 70's, I struggled to put myself through school (let's not even get started on the costs of a college degree these days!) and pay for my flight training (mostly through loans) to pursue a dream of being a Professional Pilot. Now , 40 years later, after having been fortunate to have flown everything from parachutes to 747's, this subject has been a particular heartbreak for me ...as I seriously doubt I could succeed in that endeavor today ...and wonder how any of today's young(er) folks, or even us 'older guys' (of even 'above-average' means) ever could as well.

I'm afraid these greedy times we're a livin' and the EXPONENTIALLY accelerating rate of expense, will only serve to hasten the time when the final nails are driven. We're rapidly destroying 'General (Recreational) Aviation' in this country ...making it solely a 'Rich Mans Sport'.

And as to the reasons for its demise? Surely, if you're (intellectually) honest with yourselves, (and you know who you are) you understand the point of this (lowly 2-cents-worth) comment. If not, then ...no offense ...uplifting, hopeful enthusiasm notwithstanding, but with none of the cold, clear logical pragmatism so necessary for one to be a successful 'PIC' ...you're 'rowing down that famous long river in Egypt' ...or are of that myopic 'mindset' of those who have caused and /or are still actively involved in the death of General Aviation ...are in fact one of the many active and willing participants in it ...and, unfortunately, part of the problem ...certainly NOT the solution.

...continued next;

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 9:20 AM    Report this comment

...continued last Part 8 of 8:

The final, irrefutable evidence is not that our illustrious 'leaders' of AOPA & EAA are congratulating themselves on the fact that they essentially failed at securing what was actually requested and proposed by (their?) membership, and really all that was 'needed': an extension of the LSA rules to cover 4-6 seat light aircraft, VFR for primarily 'recreational' purposes (in fairness, not really all their fault as anyone can, no matter what their background, 'status' or financial where-with-all can fail in that 'Fiasco' we call the US Government)

...NO ...they insult our intelligence (as well as their own) with 'SPIN' worthy of the best of what we've all been forced to endure from the Corporate-Congressional-Industrial-Complex over the last few decades ...by trying to con us into believing how "great this will be" ...what a difference it will make, when the 99% (no pun intended) of us who exist in the 'real world' know all too well to the contrary! It's now all too evident that 'They' in essence have become and are no different than 'Them' ...but how devastatingly unfortunate for all of us that they (ALPA & EAA) are, for the purposes of representation, the only game(s) in town.

We (as in ALL of us) have just witnessed the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind in this country (no ...this IS NOT "Class Warfare" talk here ...just an honest, objective assessment of the data & facts) ...and our beloved and nearly extinct 'General Aviation' has just simply been one of its many and most obvious casualties.

"Why" ...the rapidly decreasing pilot population? ...the rapidly downward spiral of total logged hours? ...a Pilot shortage?? ...sluggish sales factors?? ...continuing decline in attendance at Oshkosh? And now ...a (continuing) trend towards decreasing BIZAV sales!! (Oh My!)

...very, very sad indeed.

Again, apologies for the (long) rant folks. I'm just a 4-decade-experienced Airline, Air-taxi, 'Corporate', Flight School and 'Recreational' (General) Aviation flunky, currently grounded (due to ...you guessed it ...(expired) Medical ...'expense' and regulation) aircraft owner.

So yea ...you would be reasonable to conclude that the above was just the 'ranting/raving' and whining of a 'disgruntled', disappointed, defeated ...sad SOB.

...or, if you're truly intellectually honest with yourselves....

Thanks for puttin' up with me

Posted by: B.M. D. | January 11, 2017 9:21 AM    Report this comment

B.M.D. Thanks for taking the time to post a very thoughtful comment.

Posted by: Roger Anderson | January 11, 2017 10:00 AM    Report this comment

Roger, what part of BMD's multi page exposition and "thoughtful comment" do you agree? Had a hard time focusing on the message(s).

Can you summarize BMD's points in a short, cogent manner?

Separately everyone should be reminded that BasicMed leaves intact the current medical certificates. So if a pilot does not like BasicMed - then get a "regular" medical. We now have an alternative to meet medical fitness.

Posted by: LUCA BENCINI TIBO | January 11, 2017 10:45 AM    Report this comment

Sadly, I agree with B.M.D., and events in Congress this week will make it exponentially more difficult for the middle class to ever re-emerge. Congress is so greedily feeding at the trough of corporate lobbyists that they are throwing our democracy to the dogs. It appears that the U.S. will soon be run by corporations that want their employees to be just educated enough to do their jobs, ie, most won't get college degrees and will spend their lives working to keep their heads above water while the corporate heads live behind gates and jet across the continents in their Gulfstreams, Citations, etc. My friends all fly old Cessna taildraggers, but they are the last of a dying breed; thier kids either don't want or cannot afford to take over the old birds and keep 'em flying.

Posted by: CRISTA WORTHY | January 11, 2017 10:47 AM    Report this comment

I also agree with Luca Bencini Tibo in that, hey, if you don't like the new system, stick with the old. That's what I did. But AOPA and EAA somewhat diminish their credibility by crowing that they just re-invented the wheel---they didn't.

Posted by: CRISTA WORTHY | January 11, 2017 10:55 AM    Report this comment

"BasicMed is the best thing to happen to general aviation in decades," said AOPA President Mark Baker.

Huh??? This is where AOPA loses me. If Mark Baker actually believes that, then he isn't the sharpest tack in the pack and should be watched closely as the AOPA leader. by the AOPA membership. If Mark Baker doesn't personally believe it and is just BSing his way out of the results, then he still should be watched closely by the AOPA membership. My opinion.

Posted by: Roger Anderson | January 11, 2017 12:07 PM    Report this comment

Unless you need a 2nd or 1st class medical, the BasicMed addresses an important point. Fortunately I have never had been denied nor deferred a medical but I do have pilot friends who have. They then had to spend thousands of $'s over extended periods of time to get the medicals back or simply gave up on flying. Most of the conditions were already under successful treatment but the AMEs had no choice, based on the FAA guidance, to deny or defer. BTW I'm not suggesting that we fly with serious medical issues; we still need to self-certify before each flight. And we need to be responsible for own on health (obviously!).

Also let's keep some perspective. Over many years, the FAA - for whatever good and bad reasons - was not interested in seriously addressing the 3rd class medical through the regulatory process. So I give credit to some of the aviation alphabet soup organizations and some members of the US Congress to address this through the legislative process. As in any legislative process, trade-offs have to be made to try to satisfy conflicting interests and reach consensus.

Posted by: LUCA BENCINI TIBO | January 11, 2017 12:18 PM    Report this comment

Does anyone see this as a money making scam for AOPA and EAA? I remember being inundated with requests to donate to both organizations to help"Third Class Medical Reform" for several years. Seems a little fishy to me.

Posted by: Steve Stahl | January 11, 2017 4:53 PM    Report this comment

I'm Canadian and don't have a dog in this fight, but, wow did the alphabets get screwed by the borocracy.
I like the quote, America, too late to fix it but too early to take it apart.
Getting closer Though!
Canadians are right behind you, as usual.

Posted by: Ray Toews | January 18, 2017 10:35 AM    Report this comment

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