Via AVWeb, the FAA has announced a proposed rulemaking that would eliminate the 3rd class medical requirement for most small-plane pilots (like me):
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.
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.
That would be great. I haven't had an aviation medical in a while, and it's one of three things keeping me from flying lately. (The other two are time and money.) The medical certification process never seemed particularly onerous, but it is expensive ($200 or so) and time consuming (find an AME, go to the AME, get the exam, go home). I hope the legislation and the rules both pass.