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Thread: Driver's license medical for six-seat aircraft?

  1. #1
    Barnstormer's Avatar
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    Driver's license medical for six-seat aircraft?

    New bill would expand driver's license medical

    After nearly two years of FAA inaction on the AOPA/EAA third-class medical petition, Congress has taken matters into its own hands, offering up legislation that would vastly expand the number of pilots who could fly without going through the expensive and time-consuming third-class medical certification process. Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), a member of the House General Aviation Caucus, and GA Caucus Co-Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.) on Dec. 11 introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act. The legislation would dramatically expand the parameters for flying under the driver's license medical standard. Rokita and Graves are both AOPA members and active pilots.

    "We have waited far too long for the FAA to expand the third-class medical exemption to more pilots and more aircraft," said AOPA President Mark Baker. "Congressmen Rokita and Graves stepped forward to take decisive action in the best interests of general aviation when the FAA refused to act. We appreciate their outstanding leadership on this issue and look forward to seeing this bill move forward."

    The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act would allow pilots to use the driver's license medical standard for noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats. That includes virtually all single-engine airplanes with six or fewer seats, including Beech Bonanzas, as well as many light twins like the Piper Aztec, Beech Baron 55 and 58, and Cessna 310. By way of comparison, most large SUVs on the roads today weigh more than 6,000 pounds and can carry six to seven passengers, making them larger than the aircraft that would be operated with proof of a valid driver's license under this new bill.

    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 act also would require the FAA to report on the safety consequences of the new rule after five years.

    "As a pilot, I am pleased to introduce this important legislation with my colleagues and fellow pilots," said Rokita. "This bill eliminates a duplicative and therefore unnecessary medical certification regulation that drives up costs for pilots and prevents the general aviation industry from fulfilling its economic potential."

    "For many recreational pilots, the FAA's third class medical certification process is nothing more than a bureaucratic hoop to jump through," said Graves. "It discourages new pilots and does not truly improve safety. As a pilot, I have gone through this process several times. However, like all pilots, I am responsible for determining whether I am medically fit to fly during the time between my mandated medical certifications. Expanding the current exemption makes sense and will promote greater recreational aviation activity across the U.S. without an impact on safety."

    In addition to Rokita and Graves, the bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), and Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). All four co-sponsors are members of the GA Caucus.

    The legislative action comes after the FAA has repeatedly declined to rule on a March 2012 petition filed by AOPA and EAA. That petition asked the FAA to expand the driver's license medical standard already used by sport pilots for nearly a decade. Under the petition, pilots would be able to operate noncommercial VFR flights in single-engine aircraft with 180 horsepower or less, four or fewer seats, fixed gear, and a maximum of one passenger. To participate, pilots would need a valid driver's license and would be required to take recurrent safety training to help them accurately assess their fitness to fly.

    More than 16,000 overwhelmingly favorable comments were filed during the public comment period on the petition. But despite strong support from the aviation community and solid evidence that the exemption would maintain or improve safety, the FAA failed to act, so AOPA turned to supporters in Congress for help.

    Building support for the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act will be critical to its passage, and AOPA will be calling on members to show their support in January after Congress returns from recess. Look for details about how you can help in upcoming issues of AOPA ePilot and on AOPA.org.

  2. #2
    Barnstormer's Avatar
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    Everyone liked the EAA's way of notifying congressmen of the BMI bill so I contacted them about this bill and got this response.

    Dear Phil,

    Thank you for writing.
    We do plan on using the Rally Congress tool for the 3rd class medical bill introduced today, but we plan on waiting until January because most Congressional staffers are going to be out of the office for the holidays, and we don’t want our members’ email to reach inboxes that are not being monitored. When we activate the tool, we will send an email to all EAA members urging their participation.
    Thank you again for writing, and have a wonderful holiday season!

    Thank you,

    Jonathan Harger, EAA 63226
    Government Advocacy Specialist
    EAA- The Spirit of Aviation

    Phone: 920.426.6103
    Fax: 920.426.4885

    www.eaa.org


    I will be sure and post the link here when I get it.

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    WWhunter's Avatar
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    I saw this 'NEWS FLASH' also and I couldn't be happier. There are those pilots out there that will be against this but I think the great majority are 100% in agreement with it. Hope it passes!!

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    I googled this: "what percentage of congressional bills make it to law?" and it appears that 2% of bills actually make it to law. That appears to be raw data and perhaps a bill that requires no monetary appropriation may have a higher chance. Anyone know how to figure the statistics for this kind of bill?

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    It is to good to be true. Anything that makes sense, congress can not handle. I can not understand why a pilot would object to this. It would also be great for the aircraft industry. I know a lot of pilots that would be ordering a Maule or Super cub asap. We know the only way to get this done is vote out all of the congress and senate (which is long over due and 2014 is a start). We can only vote and hope.

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    RanchPilot's Avatar
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    I'm sure somebody has already thought of this and run the numbers (AOPA, EAA?), but I'd love to see an analysis of all the potential economic benefits of this bill. Money talks in Washington DC, and it might be helpful to supply our non-aviator congressional delegations with facts and figures showing that this bill represents the possibility of a MAJOR economic infusion (flying lessons, airplanes, av gas, hangar rental, insurance, parts & maintenance, etc.) from a wealthy demographic (i.e., retired guys with money to spend, but who can't pass a medical), balanced against the negligible risk that one of those people will have his heart-attack in the sky, rather than in his 50-foot motor home while legally driving on 2-lane public roadways past school buses full of kids on the drive to the airport under his validly-issued driver's license.


    I agree that this bill makes way too much sense for anyone in DC to actually pass it, but it might help to provide them with the numbers showing potential economic benefit versus negligible risk (as far as I know, they've never had a light sport pilot fall out of the sky for medical reasons).

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    Those guys and the GA caucus are becoming my new hero's good for them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tumbleweed View Post
    ...the only way to get this done is vote out all of the congress and senate (which is long over due and 2014 is a start)...
    I disagree with you on this, IIRC the GA caucus has grown considerably (thank you AOPA, EAA, etc.) and the timing may be perfect. Certainly agree about economically good for the country. Also think more pilots would go in for questionable injuries, etc. if they didn't have to worry about reporting complications at medical time.

    Mark J
    Practicing open cockpit extremism

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    Agree. We are now in the inhibit mode - something goes wrong, you do not want it on an accessible record. Same with aborted takeoffs - now that they are reportable, is it better to continue the takeoff with that faulty gauge?

  10. #10
    CubDriver218's Avatar
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    I'm very pleased to hear this. Can't wait to hear if it passes or not. Does anyone know when we may expect to hear any kind of decision on the matter? Hope to not hold my breath like the FAA Petition.
    Fast or slow, always low, freedom of flight soothes the soul.

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    behindpropellers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RanchPilot View Post
    I'm sure somebody has already thought of this and run the numbers (AOPA, EAA?), but I'd love to see an analysis of all the potential economic benefits of this bill. Money talks in Washington DC, and it might be helpful to supply our non-aviator congressional delegations with facts and figures showing that this bill represents the possibility of a MAJOR economic infusion (flying lessons, airplanes, av gas, hangar rental, insurance, parts & maintenance, etc.) from a wealthy demographic (i.e., retired guys with money to spend, but who can't pass a medical), balanced against the negligible risk that one of those people will have his heart-attack in the sky, rather than in his 50-foot motor home while legally driving on 2-lane public roadways past school buses full of kids on the drive to the airport under his validly-issued driver's license.


    I agree that this bill makes way too much sense for anyone in DC to actually pass it, but it might help to provide them with the numbers showing potential economic benefit versus negligible risk (as far as I know, they've never had a light sport pilot fall out of the sky for medical reasons).
    I'm not sure what the logic is on how this bill will have a positive economic impact? I only know a few pilots under the age of 40. Young guys aren't worried about a medical.

  12. #12
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    I'm not sure what the logic is on how this bill will have a positive economic impact? I only know a few pilots under the age of 40. Young guys aren't worried about a medical.
    Yes but, it is more likely that those pilots over 40, who could take advantage of the drivers license medical, would be able to spend the $$$$ for a new airplane. Thus a positive economic impact.
    N1PA

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    WWhunter's Avatar
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    Totally agree skywagon8! These are also the guys that have the time and money to devote to flying. Case in point, our local EAA Chapter was 95% guys over 60 until recently when nearly the entire work grew of AirCorp Aviation (http://www.aircorpsaviation.com) joined our chapter. The 'geezers are mostly old pilots that have had to give flying up due to some minor medical issue that forced them to sell their plane. Almost all of them are looking for an LSA, but rightfully state that they sold their 172/182 for less than a decent LSA will cost them. Mostly they sit around not flying yet dream of the day they can pass a medical. If this proposal is made law I believe several of these guys would buy another airplane.

    The young guys from Aircorps have started a flying club, have 10+ members stating they will all pitch in to buy a plane. A couple of the 'geezers' have joined this in hopes of the club buying a LSA type TW. So there are young guys that do want to fly. The group is hoping to find something along the lines of a 85-90 Champ within their budget of under $30K.
    The older guys having flown larger aircraft would prefer to have something they are familiar with such as a 172/182, unfortunately their medical status forces them to fly LSA.
    This

  14. #14
    behindpropellers's Avatar
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    Good points.

    The 172's and 182's probably have the safest safety record. The one issue I see with LSA ruling is that people are flying them overloaded.

  15. #15
    RanchPilot's Avatar
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    As glad as I was to see the LSA thing happen, it was only better than nothing. Part of why people are flying LSA overloaded is because they're trying to stretch the category to fly how they always did--in their 4 place or 6 place planes. As the GA population continues to age, I'd wager that a lot of high performance pilots will just give up flying rather than being forced into a little LSA 2-place that doesn't fit their mission. This new bill represents the possibility (and associated economic impact) of keeping those pilots flying.

  16. #16
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by behindpropellers View Post
    Good points.
    ...The one issue I see with LSA ruling is that people are flying them overloaded.
    Exactly, that is why some manufacturers install oversize engines and then derate them in order to comply with the low gross weight regulations. Which then encourages the pilot to fly over gross just because the airplane can perform. All the more reason to change to this new six seat, 6000 pound rule. Safety.
    N1PA

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    Back when LSA was proposed everybody said it wouldn't impact safety or accident rates. That's proven true. Now in support of eliminating the 3rd class medical LSA is being cited as detrimental to safety? Hmm.

    Back when LSA was proposed it was said to be an economic stimulator since it would spur sales of new, compliant airplanes. That's proven true. Now in support of eliminating the 3rd class medical folks are saying it'd boost the economy. By allowing guys to fly their old iron instead of buying new? Hmm.

    People are funny.

  18. #18
    RanchPilot's Avatar
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    LSA has not affected safety, and has stimulated the economy. No argument from me on either front.

    My point is that LSA was a half measure, our successful experience with which we can now use to support expansion of the concept to a wider class of user. I suspect the safety aspect will be little changed, and the economic effect will only be enhanced by keeping a wider pool of pilots flying in a wider range of aircraft than LSA currently allows.

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    Here I sit with a) a beautiful C180 that I'd prefer to keep forever, b) a special issuance medical that requires me to file a report with the FAA every 6 months and will almost certainly contribute to an ultimate denial, and c) my checkbook sitting on the table for over a year enticing me to buy a Carbon Cub and build it in the E-LSA category so I can wave bye-bye to the FAA and the looming uncertainty of my future medical status. I'm all for this new proposal's passage. But I won't advocate it as beneficial for safety because that means in it's possible failure our current privileges may be revamped. Citing LSA's safety is a great idea. Self-certified fitness to fly has worked. To say LSA guys are flying over gross would imply those pilots are reckless. I don't think that's a sound strategy. I like the idea of pilot medical regulation for commercial pilots. That's consistent with commercial drivers of other equipment types. I'm also in favor of letting private folks be responsible for their own actions and decisions. Like typical auto drivers. That's how I'll approach the subject as I lobby my congressional representatives.
    Last edited by sierra bravo; 12-14-2013 at 07:58 PM.

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    Does anyone know if this new bill has the same provision as sport pilot, that if you were ever denied a medical you can't use your drivers license? I didn't see it so maybe it's not there. Shhhhh.

  21. #21
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    I'm wholly in support of this bill. Better a law, than something easily rolled back by the FAA.

    The economic impact will be mixed - it mostly just means that the same money will flow to different pockets, and maybe keep a few pilots in the air a little longer. Like SB, I suspect it will harm the LSA market, while making "classic" (as in used) airplanes more valuable. It might help the higher performance certified market a little.

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    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    I would expect that the bureaucrats will lobby against this bill, if for no other reason than it reduces the need for bureaucrats. When the time comes for citizen input, I hope congress receives as much or more support for this bill as FAA did in support of the EAA / AOPA petition.

    I am delighted to see members of congress undertake to restrict government control over private activities (such as exercising the privileges of a PRIVATE pilot's license), rather than just keep increasing government.
    Gordon

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    I'll bet the companies making their living off of LSA will be against this!

  24. #24
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Den View Post
    I'll bet the companies making their living off of LSA will be against this!
    Probably, but I can't help but wonder whether the market for new LSA aircraft would actually be damaged. My thinking is that these new LSA planes tout modern materials and manufacturing techniques, modern aerodynamic efficiencies, and modern engines - all of which combine for good performance at relatively low operating costs. I think the new LSA's are perhaps the modern Champs, T-Crafts, Luscombs, Ercoups (dare I say Cubs?!) for pleasure flying. I think they will be attractive regardless of the prevailing regulatory climate.
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    Cub junkie's Avatar
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    Other than the offerings by Cub crafters and Legend who is buying these overpriced LSA's? I'm glad for this bill and hope it gets passed. I'm skeptical of anything positive for GA anymore. I will be taking what I hope to be my last first class physical just after christmas. I plan on not taking another physical as I will retire in march. Looking forward to less government involvement. I'm wary of anything that would help us light plane folks and I hope I'm wrong.

  26. #26
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    When I bought my first airplane in the winter of 1974 / 75, a T-Craft, my salary was $1006 per month (I looked it up here file:///home/chronos/user/Downloads/MilPayTable1975.pdf ). I paid $3500 for the plane. Three month's pay for a simple, basic airplane. Now my salary is almost exactly four times that (teacher's salary - not extravagant!), and I doubt whether I could buy a decent T-Craft for $14,000. I haven't checked though, so maybe??? It would be interesting to know how many months' salary a brand-new basic plane would have been then and now. Oh, interesting - just checked and the same military pay grade now would also be very close to 4 times the pay in 1975.
    Last edited by Gordon Misch; 12-15-2013 at 01:38 AM.
    Gordon

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    TulBiplane's Avatar
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    As a point of reference, can someone point to a bill that was passed by Congress that regulated what I could fly, and what documentation I needed? I thought we were all constrained by policies dreamed up by the FAA - not by Congress. I am still 100% in favor of this bill but I am awed that it is being born in Congress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gordon Misch View Post
    Probably, but I can't help but wonder whether the market for new LSA aircraft would actually be damaged. My thinking is that these new LSA planes tout modern materials and manufacturing techniques, modern aerodynamic efficiencies, and modern engines - all of which combine for good performance at relatively low operating costs. I think the new LSA's are perhaps the modern Champs, T-Crafts, Luscombs, Ercoups (dare I say Cubs?!) for pleasure flying. I think they will be attractive regardless of the prevailing regulatory climate.

    No doubt the technology is better and attractive, but Cubcrafters is a perfect example. A carbon cub with two occupants is over gross with more than just a few gallons of fuel and zero baggage. The kit versions can be certified to like 1600# I think. Wouldn't a 1600# airplane be more attractive than a 1320# version?? And a 2300# would be even more attractive.

    Pretty hard to justify limiting a driver's license medical to just 1320# so I really hope this goes through- even if there are some tweaks down the road.

  30. #30
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TulBiplane View Post
    As a point of reference, can someone point to a bill that was passed by Congress that regulated what I could fly, and what documentation I needed? I thought we were all constrained by policies dreamed up by the FAA - not by Congress. I am still 100% in favor of this bill but I am awed that it is being born in Congress.
    You have an ELT in your plane? Thank Congress, not the FAA...two Senators went missing in AK, and Congress took action...the requirement for ELTs.

    How about the current Congressional act which required the FAA to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System.

    and there are others. Get Congress interested in something and they WILL dictate new policies to the FAA, which then develops and implements regulations to get it done.

    MTV

  31. #31
    royevansii's Avatar
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    Does this mean my AME is going to have yet another excuse to up the cost of my First Class medical?

    A few bucks aside, I hope this passes. Watching my father deal with special issuance nonsense and the fine folks in OKC I'd gladly pay the doc more so he can get back in the air in his favorite 182.

  32. #32

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    Your new AOPA president Mark don't sit on his duff and wait for the FAA for years to make a decision, I believe he and our flying senators will get'r done! I was flying with Mark today and had a good discussion about this and a few other projects the AOPA is going to be working on to help out GA and I think they are on a good path. I believe more of our aging pilots could afford and rather fly a safe and easy to get into a 25-50K Cessna 172 than spend 120 - 200K on a LSA with no room and be over gross weight 90% of the time!

  33. #33
    TurboBeaver's Avatar
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    Two years later and ?????

  34. #34

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    Congress is more screwed up than the FAA. No news flash there.

  35. #35
    TurboBeaver's Avatar
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    Sad part is if benifited them, would be all done in a week!
    Pretty much pathetic............. Drs are dumping lots of $$$$ into their pockets to try and stop this so they can
    Pull down $900k instead of 800k this year, to make their payments on the big place in Monte Carlo???? This is not about safety at all................ It's just about extra money for doctors now......
    .simple as that period.......
    Last edited by TurboBeaver; 09-02-2015 at 08:03 AM.

  36. #36
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Hey Turbo, What do you suppose might happen if everyone who uses a third class medical boycotted the system and did not bother to renew them for about three years? Think the FAA would notice? AOPA? Anyone? Any changes in the accident rate? The only pilots who would need the medical are those who are taking a flight test. I think that it would take a long time for anyone to notice.
    N1PA

  37. #37
    TurboBeaver's Avatar
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    Uncle Pete,
    I think folks are getting really sick of them (DC) in general, and the same people in FAA that are blocking this ,even though it is what the people plainly want, are the same ones that decided " no more field approval's ", and
    Should be relieved of there titles and sent home packing,(no pensions, that would bring some ki eyein outta em)
    They need some of their own medicine, and I think it's coming for them........... Way to much power, and NO common sense anymore. Totally out of control at this point, who else can just brush this stuff aside if the don't like the smell of it?? Going on 3 years now?? WTF??? This
    Is absolute BS.......... That's what I think....Pete They would notice alright and start in with the standard old, Fines starting at $200,000 plus 400 years in jail minimum, federal marshalls headen your way in Blackhawks etc, our whatever it takes to frighten folks back into doing exactly what they say ( but don't do themselves)........... ( Russia ???)
    You going to Greenville with your cub and kick some butt???n
    Last edited by TurboBeaver; 09-02-2015 at 11:21 AM.

  38. #38
    CubDriver218's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    What do you suppose might happen if everyone who uses a third class medical boycotted the system and did not bother to renew them for about three years? Think the FAA would notice? AOPA? Anyone? Any changes in the accident rate? The only pilots who would need the medical are those who are taking a flight test. I think that it would take a long time for anyone to notice.
    Well people crossing the boarder, people getting ramp checked, people who have to (god forbid) file a claim would all need to provide a medical. I like the way you think, but doubt it'd make a difference. What's trying to be accomplished is logical, and unfortunately that's not just not part of the equation with big government a lot of times.
    Fast or slow, always low, freedom of flight soothes the soul.

  39. #39
    WindOnHisNose's Avatar
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    Take a moment to look at the thread: http://www.supercub.org/forum/showth...=windonhisnose

    I don't think it is only the aviation medical examiners who are opposing this...the Airlines Pilot Association has come out strongly against the reform, as well: http://www.supercub.org/forum/showth...ts+association

    This is getting interesting, and we will see what transpires.

    Randy

  40. #40
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    No more Greenville Earle. That's over my shoulder.

    You are correct Richard. That's why the . After you have been associated with the FAA and big gov for half a century you will know where I'm coming from.
    N1PA

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