Will Continue Working On Drivers License Medical Issue
EAA chief Tom Poberezny is happy with the Sport Pilot rules
announced on Tuesday.
"More people will fly," he said in an exclusive interview with
Aero-News Net. "This provides an economic opportunity to get people
involved in aviation."
The new Sport Pilot rule, he said, brings the cost of learning
to fly, flying and maintaining an aircraft down to a much more
affordable level. In these days when the military is no longer the
primary source of pilot training, when only 600,000 people are
rated to fly, the new rule will vastly add to the ranks of
But there IS the medical issue. The
Drivers Licence Medical (DLM) aspect of the new rules basically
says, if you're healthy enough to drive a car, you're healthy
enough to fly a sport plane. But if your medical flight certificate
has ever been denied or revoked, you still have to be medically
cleared before you can fly.
"For those who've been denied, that's the most important piece"
of the Sport Pilot ruling, he said. "I have friends who've been
denied their medical and were anticipating the opportunity to get
back into the air through Sport Pilot. I understand their feelings.
But the purpose of Sport Pilot is much broader than this issue.
This rule package can have a tremendous effect on aviation growth
in the future."
For Now, Here's What To Do If You've Been Denied/Revoked
If you have received a denial letter from the FAA, the Sport
Pilot rules give you an additional avenue of recourse. As always,
you can pursue a third-class special issuance from the FAA through
traditional channels. But when the new rules go into effect
September 1st, you can also seek a sport-pilot medical evaluation
via a separate procedure that the FAA continues to design and
The first alternative may prove a viable option for individuals
whose longstanding denial relates to a condition for which medical
advances have been made through a period of months or years. For
example, as late as the mid-1980s, pilots received outright denials
for diabetes. Today, this condition is not considered grounds for a
denial once a treatment regimen is in place.
The FAA alluded to the second alternative during its press
conference to announce the new rule on Tuesday. The details of such
a sport-pilot medical evaluation remain to be developed as part of
the implementation of the final rule. Poberezny said the EAA
Aeromedical Council has a long-standing history of working with the
FAA Medical Office and will meet with FAA medical personnel to help
develop the policy and procedures for this new type of
There's another advantage to the medical rules under Sport
Pilot. "People who go for a special issuance and are approved don't
have to have it re-issued every six months or every year,"
For those who fall under the revoked/denied clause in the Sport
Pilot medical language, Poberezny held out the possibility of
positive developments down the road.
"The FAA is willing to
work with industry -- EAA, AOPA and other groups -- on ways to
address those who've been denied, in terms of finding other ways to
let them fly under the Sport Pilot rule."
The FAA appears to be thinking along the same lines. In a
statement issued to ANN, the FAA said:
We understand that these conditions [the concerns of pilots with
FAA medical denials on record] may not have been expected and may
disappoint some people. That was not our intent, nor is it our
intent that affected persons would have to maintain an airman
medical certificate if they would rather use their current and
valid US driver's license to medically qualify as a sport
We ultimately concluded that, in those cases where the FAA has
existing knowledge of medical ineligibility, we need the affected
person to address it and, hopefully, have it resolved. To meet the
intent of the rule, the affected person should apply for
reconsideration of his or her eligibility. In some denial cases,
applicants simply may not have provided enough information to the
FAA or may not have supplied information that the FAA may have
requested. In certain other denial cases, applicants may not
have exercised their appeal rights, which may have led to
certification in some cases.
The FAA wants to see as many pilots as possible take advantage
of this exciting new rule and looks forward to working with
individuals seeking to exercise sport-pilot privileges. We also
intend to work with EAA, AOPA, and other industry groups toward
Sport Pilot was the result of a nine-year effort on the part of
people like Poberezny and other aviation leaders. "There were a
thousand reasons to go ahead" with Sport Pilot, Poberezny said,
regardless of the restrictions under DLM. "This was a nine year
community effort involving EAA and a lot of other organizations.
But this is just the beginning."