General-aviation advocates are confident that medical reform will be a reality soon, after the House last night passed an FAA funding bill that includes changes to the medical certification system for pilots. The Senate is expected to okay the bill later this week, and send it to President Obama for final approval. “This is a major step forward and makes us more optimistic that our efforts can finally reach the finish line,” EAA chairman Jack Pelton said in a statement released late last night. “While there are still some steps remaining, this is absolutely the farthest advance for aeromedical reform in a quarter century of efforts.” Provisions in the bill would eliminate the need for recurrent medical exams for most general-aviation pilots.
“The money and time that pilots and the federal government put into the third-class medical process can now be invested in programs and activities that actually make aviation safer,” AOPA President Mark Baker said last night. After the president signs the bill into law, the FAA will have up to one year to develop and issue regulations before the third-class medical provisions become effective. But the 10-year reachback that will allow many pilots to fly without needing another FAA medical exam will take effect when the bill is signed by the president, AOPA said. In addition to medical reforms, the legislation requires the FAA to develop regulations for marking towers between 50 and 200 feet tall.
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