Sport Pilot SNAFU?


Under the new Sport Pilot classification, the concept of self-certification is really put to the test — except for those who have already flunked an airman’s medical. While new pilots can simply show a driver’s license as proof of medical fitness, those who may have had a recreational or higher certificate but lost it for medical reasons have to get their medical back — before applying for a certificate that doesn’t require a medical. What’s more, pilots who may have suffered a disqualifying medical condition but have simply let their medicals lapse can also self-certify with a driver’s license. Make sense? AOPA doesn’t think so either and is asking the FAA to eliminate this “Catch-22.” AOPA insists that relaxed medical standards for recreational and sport pilot certificates will not have a significant impact on safety. After combing through a decade of accident data, it says there’s no evidence that having a medical certificate reduces the already minuscule incidence of medically related accidents (2 percent). Furthermore, it says, most accidents that result from medical incapacitation are caused by conditions that can’t be detected or predicted by the airman’s medical.