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FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

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FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby jjbaker » Wed Apr 02, 2014 5:30 pm

The FAA on April 2 announced plans to go through a rulemaking process that could result in expanding the number of pilots eligible to fly without the need for a third-class medical certificate. The announcement comes two years after AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association jointly petitioned the FAA to expand the third-class medical exemption to cover more pilots and aircraft.

The rulemaking effort, which the FAA is calling the “Private Pilot Privileges without a Medical Certificate” project, will consider whether to allow private pilots to fly without a third-class medical certificate in certain circumstances. Instead, pilots will be able to use other criteria, including a valid driver’s license, to demonstrate their fitness to fly. The agency offered no other details of the planned rulemaking.

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As part of the announcement, the FAA said it will consider whether it can safely provide any relief to the medical requirement before the rulemaking process is complete. The agency also said it is still considering the AOPA-EAA petition, which received 16,000 overwhelmingly positive comments.

Wednesday’s rulemaking announcement comes as the FAA has been under increasing pressure to allow more pilots to fly a wider range of aircraft without a third-class medical, a privilege already enjoyed by sport pilots.

AOPA President Mark Baker made pursuing the medical exemption a top priority when he took the reins at AOPA last September, and the association has pushed the FAA for a response to its petition and sought assistance from Congress.

“This rulemaking announcement is the next important step along a path that we sincerely hope will allow more pilots to fly without the expense and frustration of the medical certification process,” said Baker. “For a decade, sport pilots have flown safely without third-class medical certificates, and we’re confident private pilots can do the same. This issue is a top priority for our members and we appreciate the FAA’s decision to move forward with rulemaking. We will continue to work with FAA, Congress, and our members to complete this process as quickly as possible.”

The FAA has announced plans to go through a rulemaking process that could result in thousands more pilots being allowed to fly without a third-class medical.Legislation to expand the medical exemption has been gaining momentum in both the House and Senate. That legislation, known as the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, would go a step further than the AOPA-EAA petition. Under the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, pilots who make noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats would be exempt from the third-class medical certification process. Pilots would be allowed to carry up to five passengers, fly at altitudes below 14,000 feet msl, and fly no faster than 250 knots. The FAA would be required to report on the safety consequences of the new rule after five years.

AOPA members Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), a member of the House General Aviation Caucus, and GA Caucus Co-Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.) introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act in December, and the bill now has 86 bipartisan cosponsors. Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), all members of the General Aviation Caucus, on March 11 introduced an identical measure in the Senate which now has eight cosponsors.

“We are grateful to Reps. Rokita and Graves and Sens. Boozman, Roberts, and Moran, as well as all of the cosponsors of this legislation, for their leadership on medical certification reform. They understand the value of general aviation to the economy, the national transportation system, and the American way of life. And they recognize that expanding the third-class medical exemption will make it easier to keep experienced pilots safely in the air,” said Baker.

He also noted that, while the FAA’s rulemaking announcement is an important step, the process itself can be complex and continued involvement is critical.

“AOPA, and I’m sure the bipartisan efforts in Congress, will continue to push ahead to ensure that this rulemaking process is finalized as quickly as possible,” Baker said. “And, at the appropriate time, we’ll call on AOPA members to continue their engagement in this effort as well.”

For their part, congressional leaders expressed hope that the FAA’s rulemaking would deliver relief for pilots and promised to continue to focus on the issue.

“Since several of us introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act to expand the successful light sport standard to general aviation, support from all political stripes has been overwhelming,” said Rokita. “While I am encouraged by the announcement by the FAA today and look forward to studying the rule they propose, we will continue to push for the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act to spur growth in the general aviation industry and eliminate red tape.”

Graves concurred, saying, “I am encouraged by today’s announcement by the FAA that it is going to take a harder look at the third class medical requirement for certain private pilots. While the FAA conducts its review, I will continue pushing the legislation I introduced with Rep. Todd Rokita, the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013, to exempt private pilots from the third class medical hurdle. While every pilot should have a strong commitment to safety, this sort of bureaucratic hoop is arbitrary and unnecessary. I will be monitoring FAA’s actions and look forward to continuing to work with AOPA and the general aviation community on this issue.”

Boozman also expressed appreciation for the FAA’s action.

“When we introduced our legislation last month, I urged the FAA to respond to the reasonable petitions that our pilots have submitted and to provide additional flexibility,” Boozman said. “I am glad to see that FAA has finally taken this initial step, and I look forward to hearing from pilots in Arkansas as they review this proposal.”

Shortly after the legislation was introduced in the Senate, AOPA contacted its members, encouraging them to ask their elected officials to support the twin bills in the House and Senate. Thousands of AOPA members responded by calling their senators and representatives.


Source: AOPA
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby RKittine » Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:14 pm

As expected the House and Senate bills that are proposed have forced the FAA to do something if they are to limit the amount of expansion that the exemption would provide for. Its about time.
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby jjbaker » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:25 pm

As expected, opposition is brisk and very blunt but not from the people one would expect to want to secure their "fair" share of the cake.
The Civil Aviation Medical Association has positioned itself briskly in opposition, claiming that departing from the 3rd class medical will be disastrous.

Got this per email earlier this afternoon and it has been making the rounds per email apparently.

April 2, 2014


Dear Congressman/Senator,

The Civil Aviation Medical Association (CAMA) is composed of aviation medical examiners (AME’s) who are interested in aviation and who provide medical certification services for our nation’s pilots. AME’s, half of whom are pilots, fully support general aviation and the safe medical certification of pilots. We wish to state our strong opposition to H.R. 3708 and S.2103, which we believe will seriously threaten the safety of affected pilots, their passengers, and the public below. These bills propose complete elimination of the FAA third class medical certificate for private pilots flying in clear weather with up to five passengers at altitudes up to 14,000 feet and speeds up to 287 miles per hour.

The third class medical certificate for private pilots is neither costly nor burdensome, being required every five years below age 40 and every two years thereafter. Its very existence deters individuals with clearly unsafe medical conditions from applying. In others, safe certification follows identification and treatment of potentially serious conditions. The House and Senate bills would allow lifelong flying without medical oversight by any physician, much less an AME. Individuals with serious and even life-threatening heart, lung, brain, psychiatric and alcohol/substance abuse conditions could declare themselves fit to fly. Selfdeclaration would free these individuals to carry five passengers at high altitudes at speeds approaching 300 miles per hour. Complete elimination of medical oversight for these pilots would constitute a clear and present danger to aviation safety.

Being mindful of challenges to general aviation, a CAMA task force for medical certification has proposed expanded recreational pilot privileges that would allow operation of larger aircraft at greater speeds with relaxed, simplified medical requirements. The key difference would be the preservation of medical oversight by AME’s. This model exists today safely and successfully in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom—all insist upon medical oversight. CAMA strongly recommends preservation of medical oversight for pilots and urges you to vote against its elimination as proposed in these bills.

Sincerely,

Mark Eidson, M.D.
President, CAMA

Phone: 770-487-0100, or Fax: 770-487-0080, or email civilavmed@aol.com with any comments.



Remark: As can be clearly seen, if it wasn't for the 3rd class medical certificate, we would be falling out of the sky like suicidal, mentally ill sick-bags on steroids. Your AME is supposedly protecting the public from pilots and pilots from themselves. I hail from a family with two medical doctors practicing medicine, one a former AME, who examined thousands of airmen and never once thought that he was doing anything but help people to be healthy enough to pass a regulatory requirement that isn't duplicated in any other motorized form of recreational transportation. You can drive up to 9 kids in a 8000 lbs. SUV and you can be mentally ill - sick, alcoholic, suicidal, depressed, fat, stupid or all of the above and nobody will ever ask you to undergo medical tests to remain behind that wheel. This is a minority asking for equal treatment on a regulatory level - not a bunch of regulation dodging criminals trying to trick the government into letting them commit unsafe acts intentionally.
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby akavidflyer » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:38 pm

Just goes to show you you that its all a money game. It has nothing to do with safety, its just going to be taking $$ out of the AMEs pocket so they are fighting against it. The professional certifications I have for my work are the same way. Nothing but an OBVIOUS money grab from an agency that could care less if you have continuing education or not, just send me your money every 3 yrs. It pisses me off to no end.

The flip side is, there are a ton of guys out flying right now with no current medical. With no medical, they are out on biannuals by years and years yet they are still flying. If they did not have to mess with a medical I am sure a lot of them would actually get current and therefore "legal". But they would rather close their eyes to that issue and pretend that only current pilots are flying. Rules are made to be broken :D

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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby RKittine » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:42 am

I still think all the positioning is to get acceptance of the 180 HP exemption rather than the 6,000 pound one. Either way, I would be happy.
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby akavidflyer » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:01 am

RKittine wrote:I still think all the positioning is to get acceptance of the 180 HP exemption rather than the 6,000 pound one. Either way, I would be happy.



Aim high and settle for less. typical sales gig. I would be happy either way also, but I would love to see it go through as proposed.

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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby RKittine » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:39 am

Since I own two planes that would not qualify under the 180 HP rule, but would under the 6,000 pound rule, I would really love to see the 6,000 rule pass. I doubt that it will. All my doctors say that I am fine to fly, but the combination of issues will probably result in a huge amount of new tests. Since my insurance company will now only approved them once a year, since they think I am fine also, if one of the two proposals, do not show REAL promise by June, then I am going to take the medical, schedule my annual July tests (About $35,000 if I did not have insurance or had to do it more than once a year) and probably waiting 5 - 10 months for a final ruling. Fortunately I have plenty of hobbies to keep me busy, but one of the rulings would take the pressure off me. Sick of flying with two of on board, half fuel and no lunch to reduce weight.

Bob
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby jjbaker » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:59 pm

AMEs Fight Elimination Of Third Class Medical

The president of the Civil Aviation Medical Association, the group that represents aviation medical examiners (AMEs), says doing away with the third class medical is a threat to public safety. Dr. Mark Eidson has written members of Congress urging them to vote against bills in front of both houses that would eliminate the third class medical for private pilots flying most single engine aircraft. In a letter to each member of both houses obtained by seaplaneforum.com, Dr. Mark Eidson says the measure will "seriously threaten the safety of affected pilots, their passengers and the public below." Under H.R. 3708 and S.2103, a valid state driver's license would be proof of medical fitness for pilots flying aircraft with a gross weight of up to 6,000 pounds carrying a maximum of five passengers at 250 knots up to 14,000 feet day VFR. "Complete elimination of medical oversight for these pilots would constitute a clear and present danger to aviation safety, " Eidson wrote. The letter was dated the same day (April 2) the FAA announced a rulemaking process for relaxation of medical qualifications for some private pilots, something Eidson says his group endorses.

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In his letter, Eidson says CAMA's own task force on the issue has recommended "expanded recreational pilot privileges that would allow operation of larger aircraft at greater speeds with relaxed, simplified medical requirements," but medical oversight would be continued. In its carefully worded announcement of the rulemaking process, the FAA said it is "considering whether it can provide any relief to the medical requirement, while maintaining safety, prior to completion of the rule," Both EAA and AOPA say they're encouraged by the FAA announcement but waiting to see the details.


Source: AvWeb

Remark: It would seem prudent for General Aviation pilots to send tactful opposition emails and letters to CAMA until the associations pick this topic up, sufficiently. CAMA just declared every sport pilot and airman who flies based on medical self-certification a ticking time-bomb and its statement literally groups anyone not currently holding a medical certificate a criminal and risk to themselves and the public. The medical tests and certification do absolutely NOTHING to uphold aviation safety - they simply deter pilots from flying with known and diagnosed conditions which the FAA deems disqualifying. Medical holders have dropped dead with severe coronary events minutes, hours, days or weeks after being issued a brand spanking new Class I medical.

CAMA obviously suffers from the same loss of realism and habituated chronic distortion of facts that currently causes significant, irreparable damage to General and Business aviation in the United States. I would strongly encourage anyone (medical holder or not) not to let this insult pass unchallenged and not to wait for our elected officials to take CAMA's letter as anything but greed based propaganda. Greed and lust for revenue does not warrant an associations ill-fated response like this, spitting in the face of Sport Pilots as well as Glider pilots who are not required to hold a medical and fly high performance aircraft in this country every day - and very safely - based on nothing but responsible self certification.

David P. Millett, MD, MPH
CAMA Headquarters
P.O. Box 2382
Peachtree City, GA 30269-2382
Phone:(770) 487-0100
Fax:(770) 487-0080

Email: civilavmed@aol.com


Emails are easy to ignore, especially with AOL.
I plan to write and print a actual letter in addition to sending a email.
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby CFII » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:46 pm

If the AMEs weren't getting paid to do 3rd Class Medicals, the perceived safety factor they provide would largely disappear.
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Re: CAMA Briskly Opposes Cl.III Medical Ease

Unread postby jjbaker » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:13 am

Letter sent. :evil: Is it just me or are things getting more and more ridiculous, lately?
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby RKittine » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:18 pm

May not be an extensive medical exam, but at the price charged for the 3rd Class, I do not think any of the doctors are getting rich.
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby CFII » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:16 am

One I went to does nothing but FAA exams.
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby RKittine » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:01 am

How many medicals do you figure he does a year? The local guy I go too (have gone to) in on Long Island near, Laguardia, Kennedy, McArthur and Republic Airports. Lots of 1st class medicals needed in that neck of the woods. Between all classes, he does about 3 per day or about 750 per year (lots of competition in the NY Metro Market though.

If he averaged $125 per exam, between 3rd, 2nd and 1st Class he makes a gross of $93,750 per year. He has medical malpractice insurance, a special FAA required EKG machine and technician to run it and send the 90 second strips directly to the FAA, has an office, secretary etc. Must do tests on the urine and keep track of the paper work. Then has to work with the FAA on all the ones that are questioned or denied.

Even medicare pays more per visit for a physical than that, so I do not think he is in business to be a AME, though I am sure the added $94,000 gross is good.

Then consider, that they are only proposing to eliminate the 3rd class, which is the least expensive of the exams and until 40 years old, only needed once ever 5 years. I do not think there is big money at risk eliminating 3rd class medicals and without the fears associated, doctors might just get more people going for regular medical exams to insure they are healthy.

Bob
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby jjbaker » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:50 am

Bob,

I think what escapes most peoples level of comprehension (certainly mine) is how on gods blue planet a medical performed every 5 years or even every year, has any impact on aviation safety. That argument is as flawed and unprofessional as their obsession with an aircraft's speed and altitude, in determining if a pilot should be examined or not. Feeding such a line of bull to a bunch of double left-handed congressmen and women and senators is one thing - but calling private and recreational pilots crooks for wishing to be treated like everyone else isn't. We have a severe issue of inequality - flying an aircraft is medically no more involved than driving a 8000 lb. housewife accelerator (SUV/ Van) loaded full of children. All there is to it, is to create even battle fields.

Its fairly safe to assume that most pilots would attempt not to have their AME be their primary health care physician, however with today's record keeping and data sharing in medical networks, it is impossible for even the worst crook to sufficiently/ lastingly hide a severe, debilitating medical condition. We're under law to disclose medical conditions and skip ANY flight if we feel sick, have taken certain medications or had some sort of intrusive medical procedure. We are already applying medical self certification prior to every flight, very successfully and responsibly. So do tens of thousands of sport and glider pilots. Then again, we've probably all seen one or two airmen in our lives who should have been grounded or were grounded and simply kept on flying medical or not.

CAMA plays no role in aviation safety, is not tasked with creating sensible regulations, has no true motivation to play a role in aviation safety and should simply call the kettle black. The objection to abolishing the Class III medical cannot be based on anything but fear to loose revenue. I would be highly interested to see what CAMA would have to say if AME's were suddenly no longer permitted to charge for performing medical examinations on hobbyists. AME's would simply stop offering the service - end of story. Argument: "If the FAA want's em examined for free, they can do it!"

Not 4 months ago we had an idiotic and unsubstantiated move on Sleep Apnea & BMI related special examinations.
One tiny dumbass attack after another, with user fees back on the table, a Damocles sword hanging above with drones which will affect VFR flying like no other issue we've ever seen and a federal government that considers General & Business Aviation a nuisance and group of "takers".

BTW, my AME was retired from his practice and in the process of retiring from being an AME - the only thing he did was Medicals (I/II & III).
At the time I last talked with him, he was upset because medical certificates had turned into an administrative nightmare full of rejections and issues.
SOPA's were his worst nightmare - he said he had seen hundreds of guys who were perfectly fine to drive, operate heavy machinery or drive busses for a living, but could not legally fly their stinky little 172 around the pattern. He considered himself a glorified "piss collector" who was doing nothing but collect whatever (sometimes idiotic) item the FAA Medical branch wanted to know about, then make a preliminary judgement and hope the gods wouldn't reject it.

In 2002 I had a Class I medical performed in Europe. The doc took my BP four times in a row and kept me on the EKG for almost 20 minutes.
When I asked him what was up, he said he was in the process of closing the practice for a few days after another Class I medical holder he had issued had died of a massive coronary a day after the medical exam was performed. I flew with a Class I medical holder (airline captain) the day before he was found dead in his office.

Not sure if we'll see common sense and equality anytime before kicking the bucket... :flying:
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby RKittine » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:52 am

J.J., I pretty much agree with almost everything you are saying. There is a difference of being able to pull off the side of the road as compared to your options in the air, but agreein worse case, both can be as harmful.

Just don't think it is the AME's and there profit motive that is holding this back, it is the bureaucrats in the FAA. A part time FAA Medical Exam practice for a RETIRED doctor is probably great.

In most cases that I have seen (The AME that I used - last three - are all in medical fields totally unrelated to any issues that would ground you. The specialists that I have treating me are more knowledgeable about my condition than either an AME (at least the ones I know) or the FAA might have. That is why I carry letters with me from all 4 them showing that I am using good judgement and am medically fit to fly LSA regardless of the conditions that I have had. I also carry a list of my medications and the pages from the FAA site showing that they are not on the banded list.

Bob
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby jjbaker » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:19 pm

Extremely neat blog article published by J. Mac McClellan from his blog:

http://macsblog.com/2014/04/flying-phys ... al-reform/

Found through the EAA News Stream...

Flying Physicians Favor Medical Reform
Posted on April 22, 2014 by Mac

The Flying Physicians Association (FPA) recently polled its members and found that the flying docs overwhelmingly support the bills in Congress to reform the third class medical system.

As I’m sure you know, the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act introduced in both the House and Senate would allow pilots to fly most piston airplanes, including twins and retractables, using a driver’s license as evidence of medical fitness.

Over 81 percent of the FPA members responding to the query support implementation of the new policy. Interestingly, of the 18 or so percent of the doctors who disagree 9 percent of those don’t believe the proposed law goes far enough. Specifically that group of doctors want to see IFR flying allowed while the bill in Congress would limit pilots flying with a driver’s license to VFR only.

Add it up and 90 percent of the flying doctors in the FPA survey believe the third class medical system as it exists is not necessary, does not add to safety, and can be eliminated for private flying.

The FPA is 60 years old and is dedicated to promoting safety, education and research. The group has also worked hard to promote the use of aircraft in support of medical services and emergencies.

Like all of general aviation activity FPA membership has declined in recent years. However, new invigorated leadership has reversed the membership drop and now more doctors are joining than departing.

I’ve been fortunate to be invited to speak at several FPA events over the years and it is always a gratifying experience. The flying docs are very serious about their aviating as well as their medical practice. Despite the old saw about doctors and Bonanzas they fly a huge variety of airplanes.

A significant number of FPA members are also AMEs. When the topic of the medical certificate comes up the FPA members that I have spoken with usually split along the lines of AMEs supporting the requirement while the other flying docs do not.

The easy target to ridicule within the FAA medical system is the concept of sudden incapacitation. The idea that a third class exam assures that a pilot will not only survive, but be healthy, for the next two years is ludicrous. When I ask non-AME doctors how long they “guarantee” their patients will live they usually say something like “I think they can make it to the parking lot.”

But the thoughtful AMEs–and there are many–also discount the effectiveness of the medical certification in avoiding a sudden pilot incapacitation event. They know the entire medical industry is not capable of predicting who will be struck by a sudden illness so the third class medical exam essentially has no chance of succeeding.

But what does worry every AME who is an FPA member that I have chatted with is changes in a pilot’s cognitive ability and overall physical functioning capability, particularly as we age. Who will be there to tell us when it’s time to close our logbooks if there is no regular exam and no required visit with a medical professional?

That is a valid concern. Families face that same question when it comes time to decide if elderly parents are still fit to drive. And those decisions on how long an aging parent should drive seldom revolve around specific medical conditions as the FAA medical certification system does.

But, FPA members are all pilots and are all physicians and the huge majority reach the same conclusions about the third class medical as the rest of us who are pilots but not docs. Doctors who fly agree that the third class medical is adding a burden with very little benefit.

It will be interesting to see how the FAA defends its medical certification procedures when even a big majority of doctor-pilots don’t believe they work.

As for the really tough decision about when to close the hangar door for the last time, well, that should be made by those of us who fly with the help of people we know and trust.


Looks like there is some hope for common sense on the horizon....
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby jjbaker » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:28 pm

And yes, CAMA acknowledged the receipt of the letter but did not furnish a response. Guess Mr. Eidson can't be bothered or he has taken too many Ignorance & Stonewalling 101 Classes that are so hard to sign up for, these days.
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Re: FAA Announces Rulemaking on 3rd Cl. Medicals

Unread postby hotspur666 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:43 pm

OK City bureaucrats are epic in their obfuscation...

If you had heart disease before, they will only issue first class medical, if and when they please...
After I had a myocardial infarction fifteen years ago, cleared with a clot-busting (thrombolytic) drugs TPa , (tissue-type plasminogen activator),
I had to wait six month, then every three years pass a Myocardial Perfusion Scan (an injected isotope that make you glow for the camera),
a six month medical and a yearly stress test EKG.

Problem is it take OK City over a year to get around to your case...so now, I'm doing my stress test next week while still waiting
for their response for more than a year ago, with a completely negative effect report(no abnormalities).

Oh, well, meanwhile, I just use my Canadian medical...
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