WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act requiring that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reform general aviation medical standards to maintain safety while supporting capable pilots and sustaining economic growth in the industry.
“Thousands of pilots, including many from Arkansas, have asked the FAA to expand the light sport aircraft medical exemption to cover additional small aircraft,” Boozman said. “I urge the FAA to work with our pilots, respond to these reasonable petitions, and provide additional flexibility. If FAA continues to delay, this bill will start the discussion toward a legislative solution.”
“For many communities in Kansas, and other rural areas of the country, general aviation pilots are the only reliable access to the outside world,” Moran said. “These pilots are also integral to agriculture, forestry, disaster relief, rescue and medical evacuation operations, and countless other fields. Six thousand pilots are already leaving the general aviation industry every year – the FAA should not be making it any more difficult for capable pilots to stay. The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act will help the FAA retain and attract pilots to this vital industry, while preserving important standards of safety in our nation’s skies.”
“Expanding this common sense exemption to other GA aircraft operating for recreational purposes makes sense from both a practical and safety standpoint. The FAA has had two years to review this request for an exemption. Let’s get this thing moving,” Roberts said.
Current law requires pilots flying certain aircraft to have a third class medical certificate. Over the last decade, 60,000 pilots left the industry, many due to the costly and time consuming process of obtaining a third class medical certificate. This bill expands on the success of FAA’s Sport Pilot rule that was adopted in 2004 and allows pilots to fly many types of small, light aircraft without a third class medical certificate but requires that all pilots undergo a flight review by a certified flight instructor every two years. During these biennial flight reviews, instructors will continue to evaluate each pilot’s physical and cognitive condition, as well as his or her ability to safely operate an aircraft. Small aircraft pilots would be required to maintain a valid driver’s license.
“On behalf of our hundreds of thousands of AOPA members, we thank Sens. Boozman, Roberts, and Moran for introducing this legislation which will do so much to support general aviation and keep pilots in the air,” AOPA President Mark Baker said. “By making it easier and more affordable to start flying and keep flying, this measure addresses the number one concern of our members.”
This legislation is supported by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
Similar legislation, H.R. 3708, was introduced in the House by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN).
“I thank Senators Boozman, Moran, and Roberts for their leadership in introducing the Senate version of the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act. I look forward to working with them to pass this bill in both chambers to spur jobs and growth in the GA industry,” Rokita said.