Rokita takes on FAA medical rule

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U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita is gaining support for a bill that would put an end to medical-fitness exams for recreational pilots.

General aviation pilots abhor the Federal Aviation Authority’s third-class medical certificate, which requires them to get a physical from an FAA-approved doctor every two years, but the industry has yet to take down that bureaucratic hurdle.

Rokita, a pilot himself, hopes growth of the General Aviation Caucus, which now boasts 239 House members, will put horsepower behind his effort. (Not all members are pilots, but they do have aviation-related industry in their districts.) He introduced the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, HR 3708, in December and has since gained 50 co-sponsors. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate on March 11.

Rokita’s bill expands on the exemption the FAA created 10 years ago for pilots of very light (1,320 pounds or less) aircraft, known as “light sport,” who need only a state driver’s license. Under Rokita’s bill, the same would be required of recreational pilots, as long as they are operating under visual flight rules (i.e. in good weather); flying a plane with six seats or fewer and; of course, not flying for pay.•

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