NTSB Head Concerned About Medical Changes

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The acting chairman of the NTSB has expressed concerns about a proposal to abandon the third class medical but he hasn't expressly opposed it. According to Roll Call, Christopher Hart told a hearing of the Subcommittee on Government Operations: "We're very concerned about pilots flying without adequate medical standards," but he also noted he doesn't really have data to support that concern. "We base our policy based on what we see in accidents and so far we haven't seen enough accidents to warrant an agency position on," he testified. "But we are very concerned about [pilots] not only having to have a medical, but then in addition to that, if you don't have a medical, you're less likely to pay attention to the FAA's list of prohibited drugs." He was testifying about a bill put forth by Reps. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., and Sam Graves, R-Mo., that would force the FAA to end the third class medical requirement for recreational GA flying.

Last week at AirVenture 2014, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) changing the third class medical provisions will be published by the end of the year. He's already signed off on a draft and it's now making executive review rounds. Meanwhile, Graves and Rokita's attempt to give legislative support to the medical certification changes may backfire. After listening to Hart at the hearing, Roll Call said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., urged Hart to formalize the NTSB's opposition to the medical changes. "I cannot believe that (the Rokita-Graves bill) could come to any good."