AOPA's Baker: BasicMed Is 'The Best Thing To Happen To GA In Decades'
Reaction has started to come in about BasicMed, the long-awaited third-class medical reform released by the FAA on Tuesday morning.
Years of effort by EAA and AOPA culminated on Tuesday morning as the FAA announced regulations that will implement the aeromedical reform law passed last July. The regulations will be published Wednesday as a final rule, to take effect May 1, 2017. According to the FAA, no changes have been made to the language in the law.
Because it is final, the rule – named “BasicMed” by the FAA – will not go out for a typical public comment period. The FAA also said it would publish an advisory circular describing the implementation of the rule later this week.
“This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, as the provisions of aeromedical reform become something that pilots can now use,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO/chairman. “EAA and AOPA worked to make this a reality through legislation in July, and since then the most common 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.”
Tuesday’s announcement finalized the highly anticipated measure that was signed into law last July as part of an FAA funding bill. That was the ultimate success of a long effort by EAA and AOPA to bring significant aeromedical reform to pilots flying recreationally and eliminate the time and expense burdens on those holding third-class medical certificates.
The law guaranteed that pilots holding a valid third-class medical certificate issued in the 10 years before the reform was enacted will be eligible to fly under the new rules. New pilots and pilots whose most recent medical expired more than 10 years prior to July 2016 will be required to get a one-time third-class exam from an FAA-designated AME.
The FAA was required to implement the law within 180 days of its signing, or this Thursday (January 12). Since AirVenture 2016, FAA senior leadership has been assuring EAA that the 180-day deadline would be met. Despite the release of the regulations as a final rule, EAA will be reviewing the language carefully to ensure it fully reflects the language and intent of the law.
“BasicMed is the best thing to happen to general aviation in decades,” said AOPA president and CEO 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.” In the near future, AOPA will offer a free online medical course to let pilots comply with the rules of BasicMed. The course is just one part of a suite of resources for pilots and physicians that AOPA is launching to help people take full advantage of BasicMed. We’re calling them our “Fit to Fly” resources and they include an interactive tool that helps you determine if you qualify for BasicMed as well as FAQs and other important information for pilots and doctors.
Baker said, “AOPA’s Fit to Fly resources will help ensure pilots can fly under the reforms we fought so hard to pass.”
The NBAA also welcomed the release of the new rule. “We commend the FAA for moving ahead in a timely fashion on the development of a final rule for third-class medical reforms,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “The implementation of the rule will allow the FAA to put scarce agency resources to higher-risk oversight activities, while remaining focused on the safety of flight.”
(Source: EAA, AOPA, NBAA news releases)