Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.
Issue link: http://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/492505
2 Vol.4 No.4 / April 2015 TOWER FREQUENCY Congress to the Rescue BY JACK J. PELTON IT HAS BECOME excruciatingly obvious that the FAA's system for creating new and appropriate regulation is frozen. It has been nine months since the FAA wrote a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would modernize the class three medical standards for private fl ying. More than 10 years of safe and successful LSA fl ying by pilots using a driver's license as evidence of medical qualifi cation has proven that the current third class medical restrictions are burdensome, costly, and unnecessary. The FAA agrees with those of us who are convinced change is appropriate and even necessary to keep more pilots fl ying for personal reasons with no loss of safety. That's why the NPRM was created and sent to the Department of Transportation for review just before EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014. The DOT review is supposed to take less than 30 days. It's been nearly nine months, and nothing has happened. The NPRM contents remain a secret. Nobody outside government knows for sure what rule changes are proposed. None of us even know what the DOT may be objecting to that is holding up publication of the NPRM. The DOT simply won't respond, and the FAA's hands are tied. I have lost all patience with the process, and I bet you have, too. Most importantly, many members of Congress who sup- port aviation have also exhausted all patience and have introduced the Pilot's Bill of Rights 2 to force the DOT and FAA to act. The original Pilot's Bill of Rights (PBOR) that was passed and signed into law about two years ago guarantees pilots basic legal protections from FAA enforcement actions. The new PBOR strengthens those legal protections and requires the FAA to change the third class medical standards so that most private fl ying could be done with a driver's license as medical certifi cate. PBOR2, championed by Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma in the Senate and Sam Graves of Missouri in the House, has broad bipartisan support. The bill would require the FAA to modify the rules so that pilots could fl y an airplane weighing up to 6,000 pounds as fast as 250 knots, at altitudes up to 14,000 feet carrying as many as fi ve passengers under VFR or IFR without a third class medical certifi cation. The fl ights must be entirely personal. This makes perfect sense to me. There is a change in air- plane certifi cation requirements at 6,000 pounds max takeof weight so that is the logical spot to set the medical limit. Flying under IFR as well as VFR also makes sense because IFR has obvious safety advantages for qualifi ed pilots. And the 250 knot speed limit has been long established for all fl ights below 10,000 feet, and the 14,000-foot ceiling keeps pilots below the level where supplemental oxygen is required at all times. The senators and congressmen who co-sponsored and wrote the PBOR2 legislation have succeeded in something I never expected to see from Washington—they kept it simple. No restrictions of such things as retractable landing gear, or engine horsepower, or other issues of no real signifi cance. The goal is to assure continued safety for the public matched with logical reg- ulation for pilots, and PBOR2 does exactly that. I suspect that in response to congressional action we will soon see the FAA NPRM on medical reform. But no matter what the NPRM changes, the PBOR2 is almost certainly a better deal for pilots. I can't imagine the NPRM will be as broad in its changes as PBOR2. And even if it is, there will be at least 90 days to comment on the NPRM, followed by more months for the FAA to consider the comments and most likely make changes. An actual rule change would be a minimum of six months away, and more likely another year. But if PBOR2 is passed in both the House and Senate and signed into law, it requires immediate change. Passage of PBOR2 is by no means a sure thing, but the bill has very broad support across party lines. Simplifying regula- tion and removing added costs for both the government and citizens is something everybody wants. But your voice is needed. Please go to the Rally Congress section of our website at www.EAA.org and send an electronic letter to your senators and congressman. They are read, you will be listened to, and your voice and vote matters. If we all pull together and get behind PBOR2, it could be law before EAA AirVenture, something that just can't happen with the FAA's frozen regulatory system. Photography by Jason Toney