FAA Proposes Aviation Medical Extension

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The FAA hasn't reviewed the duration of aviation medicals since extending the duration of third-class medical certificates from two years to three years for individuals under age 40 in 1996, and it believes it's time to do so again. On Tuesday, the agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would increase the duration of validity from six months to one year on first-class medical certificates for individuals under age 40 and from 36 months to 60 months on third-class medical certificates for individuals under age 40. However, there would be no change for the second-class validity standard since the "existing U.S. medical certificate validity standards for commercial pilots under age 40 in a multi-crew setting currently are the same as" those of the International Civil Aviation Organization. According to the FAA, the changes to the first- and third-class medical renewal periods reflect the "FAA's assessment of the current, appropriate interval for younger airmen," as well as "decrease routine workflow thereby allowing the FAA to focus on the most safety-critical certification cases and provide more efficient service to other applicants waiting to be processed." At the same time, the FAA notes that the rulemaking action also provides an "opportunity to make certain minor, but necessary, amendatory modifications." There appear to be no showstoppers in these "minor" modifications, which would remove a reference to a nonexistent FAR 67.5, delete a specific section to address military flight surgeons holding the AME designation and change the words "give the examination" to "perform the examination" in FAR 67.405, among other alterations.