Good News & Bad News
a special non-type-certificated
Light Sport Aircraft pilot certificate which does not require FAA
medical authorization. The Bad news is that pilots,
who have been denied FAA medical certification, are NOT allowed to fly under the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft
certificate rules unless they obtain FAA medical certification. The rules
specifically prohibit approval for applicants who have been
previously denied FAA medical certification.
While the Sport Pilot
permit pilots of Light-Sport-Aircraft to forgo a formal FAA medical
examination, much of the regulatory verbiage is identical to the
medical regulations for Recreational,
Private, Commercial and Airline Transport Pilots.
Pilot Medical Solutions
utilizes unique strategies to assist pilots seeking First, Second or
Third Class Medical Certification. Our services are designed to
prevent denial thereby reserving the right to utilize Sport Pilot rules.
WHAT'S IN YOUR
A pilot recently asked, "Must
the pilot flying as a Sport Pilot, with a lapsed (NOT DENIED)
FAA medical, still adhere to restrictions or specifications placed
upon their airman medical certificate?"
Since the regulations do not
specify, each pilot should have a close look at the Sport Pilot rules
which among other things specify "... if a pilot knows or has reason
to know of any medical condition that would affect his or her ability
to operate a light sport aircraft....", the pilot must refrain from
acting as a pilot in command.
The "certification" restrictions placed upon someone's FAA medical
certificate are part of the FAA's criteria to maintain a set class of
The aeromedical rules applicable
to the sport pilot can be reduced to two things:
(1) Have a VALID drivers license
(2) Have no medical condition
which could affect light sport flight performance.
So does this mean that someone's
FAA medical certificate restrictions should also be that individuals
requirement for LSA flight fitness?
Many believe that all pilots who have a drivers license
in hand are sport pilot fit. This is definitely a
questionable interpretation of the regulatory verbiage and its intent.
It is possible that insurance claims will be invalidated by
those subscribing to such interpretations. Keep in mind
that the FAA's medical certification policies are the benchmark
standard which claims have been measured by for many years.
Certainly you should consult
with your insurance company, and obtain their statement in writing, as
to how they will interpret such issues if there is a claim.
new rule specifies "... if a pilot knows or has reason to know of
any medical condition that would affect his or her ability to
operate a light sport aircraft, then the pilot should refrain
from acting as a pilot in command".
Many pilots will recognize
this phrase which is also found in FAR 61.53(a)(1). The FAA has
this to cover a broad range of medical conditions and physical
deficiencies to include at least 15 disqualifying conditions.
These conditions are:
- coronary heart
disease that has been treated or, if untreated, has been
symptomatic or clinically significant
- cardiac valve
- permanent cardiac
replacement (heart transplant)
- diabetes mellitus
that requires hypoglycemic medication
- bipolar disorder
disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested
itself by overt acts
- substance abuse or
dependence (drugs or alcohol)
- disturbances of
consciousness without satisfactory explanation of cause
- transient loss of
control of nervous system function without satisfactory
explanation of cause.
DRIVERS LICENSE NOT ENOUGH
||THOSE WHO HAVE
BEEN DENIED an FAA medical will NOT be issued a Sport Pilot
certificate, even if they have a driver's license, until being
approved by the FAA medical branch.
Sport Pilot applicants will utilize
the revised Airman Rating Application Form 8710-1
which has being changed to accommodate Sport Pilot Applicants. Those with medical issues must first provide sufficient
documentation to satisfy the FAA through
Special Issuance of a medical certificate. Despite widely
circulated information to the contrary, there is no other procedure for
the Special Issuance process is quite
tedious, most pilots find the FAA medical standards are very liberal. Once FAA approval is obtained, medical qualification may be
maintained with a valid drivers license or by the renewal of the FAA
FAA Final Rule, Excerpt:
"The FAA has reconsidered the
circumstances in which a current and valid U.S. driver’s license should
be allowed in lieu of a valid airman medical certificate and has made
substantive revisions to the medical provisions in the final rule. These
revisions are based on the FAA’s concern that pilots whose airman
medical certificates have been denied, suspended, or revoked or whose
Authorization for Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate
(Authorization) has been withdrawn would be allowed to operate
light-sport aircraft other than gliders and balloons under the proposed
Therefore, possession of a
current and valid U.S. driver’s license alone is not enough to dispel
this concern. For this reason, this final rule permits using a current
and valid U.S. driver’s license as evidence of medical qualification
based on certain conditions.
If a person has applied for an
airman medical certificate, that person must have been found eligible
for the issuance of at least a third-class airman medical certificate.
If a person has held an airman medical certificate, that person’s most
recently issued airman medical certificate must not have been revoked or
suspended. If a person has been granted an Authorization, that
Authorization must not have been withdrawn."
The Sport Pilot / Light Sport
Aircraft Category Rules apply to Light Sport Aircraft only. The
rule is effective on September 1, 2004.
The Experimental Aviation
Association (EAA) has cautioned pilots
to consult their respective states regarding drivers license rules as
they are likely to find unexpected medical restrictions.
The insurance industry
continues to tighten policy qualifications after 9/11 and many believe
that insurance providers will place additional restrictions on would-be sport pilots. The
FAA, physicians, lawyers, insurance providers and pilots will soon
interpret and apply this new rule.
To establish eligibility for
medical qualification contact us via
by phone at 405-787-0303.
FAA SPORT PILOT FINAL RULE
[4910-13] DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration, 14 CFR Parts 1, 21, 43, 45, 61, 65, and
[Docket No. FAA–2001–11133; Amendment No. 1-53; 21-85; 43-39; 45-24;
61-110; 65-45; 91-282], RIN 2120–AH19
V.5.A.ii. Medical Provisions:
Under Section 15 of SFAR No. 89, the FAA proposed to require sport pilot
certificate holders; student pilots operating within the limitations of
a sport pilot certificate; and higher-rated pilots who elect to exercise
only sport pilot privileges to hold and possess either a current and
valid U.S. driver’s license or a current and valid airman medical
certificate issued under part 67. These provisions, as revised in the
final rule, are located under §§61.3, 61.23, and 61.303 in the operating
rules where medical certificate requirements for all pilots are found.
Under Section 111 of SFAR No. 89, the FAA proposed to require
individuals exercising the privileges of a flight instructor certificate
with a sport pilot rating and acting as pilot in command of a
light-sport aircraft other than a glider or balloon, to hold and possess
a current and valid U.S. driver’s license or a current and valid airman
medical certificate issued under part 67. These provisions, as revised
in the final rule, are located under §§61.3 and 61.23 in the operating
rules where medical certificate requirements for all flight instructors
Under Section 17 of SFAR No. 89, the FAA set forth circumstances under
which a medical deficiency would preclude operators from exercising
sport pilot privileges. In the final rule, these provisions are located
under §61.53 where medical deficiency provisions are found. These
provisions are also found in §§61.23 and 61.303.
Comments received on the proposed medical provisions were mainly
supportive. A minority of commenters opposed the rule. Several
commenters, however, raised questions or offered other alternatives.
Some requested that the FAA extend sport pilot medical provisions to
recreational, and even private, pilots. A few commenters recommended
minor editorial changes.
The FAA has reconsidered the circumstances in which a current and
valid U.S. driver’s license should be allowed in lieu of a valid airman
medical certificate and has made substantive revisions to the medical
provisions in the final rule. These revisions are based on the FAA’s
concern that pilots whose airman medical certificates have been denied,
suspended, or revoked or whose Authorization for Special Issuance of a
Medical Certificate (Authorization) has been withdrawn would be allowed
to operate light-sport aircraft other than gliders and balloons under
the proposed rule. Therefore, possession of a current and valid U.S.
driver’s license alone is not enough to dispel this concern. For this
reason, this final rule permits using a current and valid U.S. driver’s
license as evidence of medical qualification based on certain
conditions. If a person has applied for an airman medical certificate,
that person must have been found eligible for the issuance of at least a
third-class airman medical certificate. If a person has held an airman
medical certificate, that person’s most recently issued airman medical
certificate must not have been revoked or suspended. If a person has
been granted an Authorization, that Authorization must not have been
These provisions apply only to persons who have held or applied for an
airman medical certificate or who have been granted an Authorization. It
does not require the pilot of a light-sport aircraft to apply for an
airman medical certificate. The words “most recent application” refer to
the latest medical application that is in on file with the FAA and on
which action was taken. In addition, the words “most recently issued
airman medical certificate” refer to the latest airman medical
certificate on file with the FAA.
In addition, the FAA has determined that the rule should explicitly
provide that a pilot may not use a current and valid U.S. driver’s
license in lieu of a valid airman medical certificate if the pilot knows
or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make that
person unable to operate a light-sport aircraft in a safe manner. This
reiterates the requirement of §61.53, but ensures that a person using a
driver’s license to exercise sport pilot privileges focuses on it. This
does not require a pilot to qualify for an airman medical certificate,
but if an individual has any question about his or her medical capacity
to fly, that person should consult his or her personal physician. The
individual still has the responsibility to determine whether he or she
meets the provisions of §61.53.
An applicant for a student pilot certificate seeking sport pilot
privileges may be asked whether:
· He or she was found eligible for the issuance of at least a
third-class airman medical certificate (if he or she recently applied
for an airman medical certificate).
· His or her most recently issued airman medical certificate has been
suspended or revoked.
· His or her most recent Authorization has been withdrawn.
The applicant may also be asked whether he or she knows or has reason to
know of any medical condition that would make that person unable to
operate a light sport aircraft in a safe manner. If the applicant
answers “yes” to any of these questions, the applicant will be reminded
that while he or she may be issued a student pilot certificate, he or
she may not use a driver’s license as evidence of medical qualification.
By incorporating these provisions, the FAA confirms that persons who
would exercise sport pilot privileges must consider their medical
fitness before operating. If a person should not be exercising airman
privileges for medical reasons, that person should not be conducting
sport pilot privileges unless and until it is safe for that person to do
Comments that supported the proposed medical provisions:
The majority of the comments received on the proposed medical provisions
were supportive. Supporting commenters regarded these proposed sections
as the most critical part of the action and stated that if the FAA
publishes a final rule with more restrictive medical requirements, they
would withdraw support for the entire proposal. They stated that using a
current and valid U.S. driver’s license as proof of general medical
qualification would permit older pilots no longer qualifying for an
airman medical certificate to continue flying. In addition, commenters
indicated that operators of light-sport aircraft are less likely to
jeopardize the safety of surrounding individuals than motorists driving
vehicles on public roadways. Commenters indicated that driving a motor
vehicle is often more demanding and stressful than piloting an aircraft
and that the overall incidence of crashes related to medical
incapacitation is very low. According to commenters, most pilots are
conscientious enough to take their own health into consideration when
making the decision on whether to fly.
Numerous supporters of proposed medical provisions mentioned the
financial and time burden placed on pilots to maintain an airman medical
certificate, noting specifically the backlog for special-issuance
medical certificates. Commenters stated that many pilots cannot obtain a
third-class airman medical certificate and that some pilots, while
medically capable of flying, cannot afford the medical testing needed to
maintain an airman medical certificate.
Many commenters viewed this proposal as a means to allow individuals who
have lost their third-class airman medical certificates to operate
light-sport aircraft. Commenters identifying themselves as senior
citizens commonly shared this view and welcome the opportunity to return
to flying after being unable to obtain an airman medical certificate for
Other comments in support may be summarized generally as follows:
· The FAA airman medical certificate is aimed at more stressful tasks
like those performed by commercial pilots who often fly IFR.
· FAA airman medical certificates do not provide a guarantee about how a
person will feel 2 hours later and do not prevent in-flight health
· Sport pilots, in particular, do not have that “must get there”
· As long as the process of §61.53 remains in place, there is no reason
to require a non-commercial pilot to hold an airman medical certificate.
· The additional requirement of a driver’s license covers the increase
in risk that the public may perceive and is appropriate for the weight
and speed of light-sport aircraft.
· The current regime probably leads pilots to avoid doctors and
treatments for certain medical conditions (e.g., depression), thus
FAA response to supporting comments
As stated in the NPRM, the FAA believes that the level of health
evidenced by a current and valid U.S. driver’s license is a necessary,
minimum prerequisite to safely operate light-sport aircraft other than
gliders and balloons. The FAA chose to use state driver standards
because they require a minimum level of health to be met before
issuance. The FAA recognizes that these standards are sufficient minimum
standards for drivers operating their automobiles at high speeds and in
close proximity to other automobiles. They also are sufficient as
minimum standards for pilots of light-sport aircraft other than gliders
and balloons, absent evidence of a medical condition that would make the
pilot otherwise unsafe to fly. Further, a state driver’s license may be
revoked or suspended for certain offenses that also may impact the
license holder’s ability and fitness to fly a light-sport aircraft, thus
providing an added level of protection. If the U.S. driver’s license of
a person holding a sport pilot certificate or rating (who does not
possess a valid airman medical certificate) is revoked or rescinded for
any offense--including, among others, substance abuse, excessive
speeding, careless and reckless operation of a vehicle, numerous traffic
violations--the individual will not be able to exercise sport pilot
privileges until the license is reinstated or the person obtains a valid
airman medical certificate.
While pilots of light-sport aircraft will be required to hold and
possess at least a current and valid U.S. driver’s license, meeting this
requirement alone does not equate to fitness to fly. The FAA cannot
over-emphasize the crucial responsibility placed on those exercising
sport pilot privileges to carefully consider fitness to fly before every
flight. The FAA has always understood that pilots’ own judgment
regarding their fitness to fly is their most basic and important safety
responsibility and that no level of airman medical certification will
ever alleviate this responsibility. Those who would exercise sport pilot
privileges must understand that, by taking control of an aircraft as
pilot in command, they have made an unequivocal declaration as to their
belief in their fitness to fly. To ensure that pilots focus on this
responsibility, the final rule, as adopted, specifically provides that a
pilot may not use a current and valid U.S. driver’s license as evidence
of medical qualification if he or she knows or has reason to know of any
medical condition that would make that person unable to operate a
light-sport aircraft in a safe manner.
The FAA believes that these minimum standards constitute only one aspect
of the overall determination as to fitness to fly light-sport aircraft.
The possession of a current and valid U.S. driver’s license is not in
and of itself sufficient to establish the fitness of the pilot.
Therefore, it must be clear that a U.S. driver’s license is not, for the
purposes of this action, an FAA airman medical certificate. The FAA
cautions that reference to a sport pilot “driver’s license medical”
should be avoided because a current and valid U.S. driver’s license does
not become a sport pilot certificate holder’s airman medical
Moreover, the FAA is concerned that a number of commenters believe that
the proposed rule would have presented an avenue for pilots who have
been denied an airman medical certificate under part 67 to continue to
fly. The FAA believes that most pilots who become aware through an
airman medical examination of a condition that could prevent them from
flying safely would not continue to fly. The commenters reveal, however,
that a number of pilots might not give sufficient weight to the evidence
of their medical conditions in deciding whether they are fit to fly. The
FAA has determined, therefore, that the best course of action for
aviation safety is to not allow a current and valid U.S. driver’s
license as evidence of medical qualification if a person’s most recent
application for an airman medical certificate has been denied or most
recently issued airman medical certificate has been suspended or
The possession of a current and valid U.S. driver’s license in no way
constitutes a certification by the FAA that the holder of that license
is fit to fly light-sport aircraft-that certification is provided by the
pilot alone. It merely allows that the holder has met minimum FAA
requirements and is permitted to operate a light-sport aircraft subject
to the requirements of part 61 and the pilot’s own determination of his
or her fitness to fly.
Comments that supported the U.S. driver’s license proposal for
ultralight operations but not for more complex light-sport aircraft
One commenter agreed that a U.S. driver’s license is acceptable for
ultralights and powered parachutes, but indicated that “all pilots of
powered flight (single-engine aircraft) should undergo initial and
periodic medical examinations.” According to this commenter, since a
third-class airman medical certificate is the current FAA standard for
general aviation, it should be the same standard for sport pilots flying
within the single-engine category.
One commenter had no objection to those exercising sport pilot
privileges being able to use a U.S. driver’s license to verify health.
According to this commenter, this proposal can benefit those who cannot
pass an FAA medical examination for whatever reason, but the commenter
points out that a certain level of physical ability is required for safe
flight. This commenter has compiled data that indicates that medical
issues are virtually no problem when considering ultralight flight and
therefore it strongly objects to a medical physical requirement for
those pilots and instructors. Pilot medical data specifically relating
to the operation of the significantly heavier and faster aircraft (up to
130 mph) as now proposed by the FAA, however, is not so clear.
Therefore, the commenter could not comment on the safety of allowing
pilots of heavier, faster aircraft which fly over congested areas and
into controlled airspace to fly without a medical examination.
FAA response to commenters who supported the proposal in part
Commenters seem to be suggesting that the FAA adopt separate sets of
standards; a two-tiered approach for this rulemaking action that would
require airman medical certification for certain sport pilot certificate
holders. The FAA did not propose such an approach because, by doing so,
the regulations basically would remain as they are today. By
establishing new rules and creating a new sport pilot certificate the
FAA intends to allow for limited operations in a safe manner that will
bring pilots operating ultralight-like aircraft into a more uniform
regulatory system. Because the commenters do not describe how the FAA
could implement their proposals other than to essentially maintain
current regulatory parameters, the FAA could not consider them.
Comments that opposed the proposed medical provisions
One medical organization commented that its general membership was
“overwhelmingly against” the NPRM’s recommended use of a driver’s
license. According to this organization, the FAA desire for not
“creating a significant financial barrier” is without merit with respect
to the airman medical certificate. The organization indicated that a
2001 survey of airmen medical examiners with at least a 66% response
rate indicates the average cost of a third-class medical is $66.69.
Annualized for those under 40, the cost is $22.23 and for those over 40,
$33.35, which can hardly be considered a financial burden.
In addition, this organization stated that the NPRM’s conclusion that
driving fast in close proximity to other automobiles is safe and
achieved by the varied medical clearances for driver’s licenses, as
applied across states, is misleading and supporting statistics are
glaringly absent. Using only fatal crashes where a driver was reportedly
“ill, passed out/blacked out” as a percent of total fatal crashes for
just the year 2000 shows 0.9%. This percentage goes up if other driver
factors such as medication reaction, not using medication, or other
physical impairment are also considered. In 1 year, this figure is
nearly five times that of the NPRM-quoted 7-year period where an airman
medical certificate is required in aviation. According to this
organization, “[t]he FAA’s belief that the medical standards that permit
an individual to drive…provides an adequate level of safety to
operate…aircraft is not supported. Actually the opposite is true in that
the numbers indicate an unreasonable risk to aviation safety for any
level of piloting.”
FAA response to comments that opposed the proposed medical provisions
The FAA concurs that, in the case of some applicants for airman medical
certification, the cost of an airman medical examination is not
cost-prohibitive. If the AME directs an applicant to undergo further
testing beyond a standard physical, however, the cost to obtain an
airman medical certificate can become more expensive. Under this action,
individuals will have to obtain an airman medical certificate if they do
not have or do not want to obtain a U.S. driver’s license. The intent of
this action, however, is not to recommend a practical fee or to analyze
the cost factors for obtaining an airman medical certificate; it is to
assure that, for sport pilot operations, an applicant can meet a basic
level of health. The 2001 survey the commenter referenced was a
compilation of information obtained from 3,800 individuals over a 4-year
period who filled out a questionnaire at FAA-sponsored airman medical
examiners periodic training seminars about their familiarity with and
use of the Federal Air Surgeon’s Bulletin. It was not specifically a
questionnaire aimed at performing an analysis of AME fees.
The FAA does not intend to imply that driving an automobile and piloting
an aircraft are exactly similar or that driving fast and in close
proximity to other automobiles is safe. The FAA makes the comparison to
driving to indicate only that, when compared to sport pilot operations,
driving can be more stressful and can require more skill sometimes than
flying a light-sport aircraft. For the NPRM, the FAA reviewed accident
data relating to the medical condition(s) of a pilot not required to
hold an airman medical certificate as a causal factor in general
aviation accidents and not accident data relating to a driver’s medical
condition as causal factors in fatal automobile accidents. Therefore,
the FAA cannot respond to the commenter regarding the 0.9% rate of total
fatal automobile crashes in 2000 relating to a certain medical condition
of the driver. Further, the FAA does not have enough accidents related
to medical causes to be able to assign a yearly accident rate for fatal
general aviation accidents. It should be noted, as stated in the NPRM,
that the NTSB will investigate any accidents or incidents involving
certificated sport pilots, light-sport aircraft, or persons exercising
the privileges of a sport pilot. The FAA anticipates working closely
with the NTSB to analyze light-sport aircraft accidents suspected of
being caused by a pilot’s medical condition.
General opposing comments
Opposing commenters also addressed the following:
· The ease with which a U.S. driver’s license may be obtained in most
· The variation in standards among the states.
· The lack of serious medical testing during the application process for
a U.S. driver’s license.
· Inconsistent and inadequate vision tests.
· The process for obtaining a U.S. driver’s license differs from that
involved with obtaining an airman medical certificate and that driver’s
license medical standards and FAA airman medical standards differ.
· The FAA did not enact its 1995 proposal to allow recreational pilots
to exercise privileges without an airman medical certificate for many
reasons, including safety concerns, and there have been no substantial
changes in need or requirements for safety since that ruling.
FAA response to general opposing comments
The FAA reiterates that the
intent of this action is not to reduce safety or to encourage those
experiencing medical problems, including vision problems, to exercise
any type of sport pilot operation. Individuals with medical conditions
that would prevent them from flying safely must not exercise sport pilot
privileges. Additionally, individuals using a driver’s license to
exercise sport pilot privileges whose most recent application for an
airman medical certificate has been denied or whose most recently issued
airman medical certificate has been suspended or revoked must not
exercise sport pilot privileges.
This action requires a basic level of health for sport pilot operations,
if that basic level cannot be met then sport pilot privileges must not
be exercised. The intent of this action is not to encourage those who
have medical conditions or who may develop a medical condition(s) to
become lax about their health and take chances piloting a light-sport
aircraft. As it does with all pilots, the FAA recommends that persons
holding a sport pilot certificate or rating consult with their private
physician routinely and especially if they have any indication of
adverse health. The FAA recommends routine vision screening.
The FAA acknowledges that the process to obtain and maintain an airman
medical certificate versus that to obtain and maintain a U.S. driver’s
license is different and that U.S. driver’s license standards vary from
state to state. Even though the process for applying for and renewing a
U.S. driver’s license varies throughout the United States, U.S. issuing
authorities require applicants to verify some basic level of health on
their various driver’s license applications. Each state requires an
applicant to meet minimum vision standards. Many authorities require
applicants to reveal any medical condition(s) that might preclude them
from obtaining a U.S. driver’s license in that jurisdiction. If any of
these applicants affirm having received treatment for a medical
condition (e.g., stroke or paralysis, brain disorder, heart disorder,
seizures) on an application, a licensed physician must further evaluate
whether that person should be allowed to drive a motor vehicle. The same
is true for an individual who applies for an airman medical certificate
who indicates that he or she has a medical condition. That individual’s
Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) must further evaluate whether that
person should be issued an airman medical certificate. Individuals who
are not medically fit to operate a motor vehicle should not exercise the
privileges of a sport pilot certificate. It is true that an individual
who holds either a U.S. driver’s license or an airman medical
certificate could choose to operate a motor vehicle or conduct sport
pilot operations when not medically fit to do so. If sport pilots choose
to do so, however, they are violating not only the terms of their U.S.
driver’s license or airman medical certificate but also the
long-standing provisions of §61.53 that pertain to prohibition on
operations during medical deficiency. Sport pilots using a driver’s
license must also comply with the provisions of §§61.3, 61.23, and
The FAA rescinded its 1995 proposal to allow recreational pilots to
self-evaluate under the provisions of §61.53 because it had no
experience allowing recreational pilots, who may pilot more
sophisticated and faster aircraft, to fly without FAA airman medical
certification. Conversely, the FAA has had many years of experience
allowing pilots of what are considered ultralight vehicles today to fly
without medical certification and, based on this experience, believes
this rule provides an equivalent level of safety for those being brought
into compliance. Validating this experience is the accident data that
the FAA has received under the terms of exemptions that have been
granted to operate a two-seat ultralight vehicle for training purposes.
Comments that favored extending sport pilot medical provisions to other
Several commenters favored extending proposed sport pilot medical
provisions to pilots with higher-level certificates. These commenters
contended that the same reasoning and justification proposed for sport
pilots should apply to other pilots, recreational pilots in particular,
who are subject to many of the same limitations such as those on
carrying passengers, use of aircraft not having fixed gear, night
flight, and visibility restrictions. It is suggested that the FAA review
sport pilot data over time to provide for private pilots to use the
sport pilot medical provisions that will be adopted under this rule.
According to commenters it has been adequately proven that existing
medicine cannot predict heart attacks or strokes, so elimination of the
FAA airman medical examination would have no adverse affect on safety.
FAA response to comments that favored extending sport pilot medical
provisions to other pilots
The medical provisions the FAA proposed under this action were proposed
for sport pilot operations only. The FAA has never considered expanding
these provisions nor would it be within the scope of this action to
consider doing so. The FAA agrees with commenters that it must gain
experience with sport pilot medical provisions.
Commenters’ general remarks and questions about proposed medical
Some commenters who expressed support for the proposal in principle and
for the option of a U.S. driver’s license over an airman medical
certificate raised the following issues:
Question: What “known medical conditions” would prevent a person from
exercising sport pilot privileges?
Response: The FAA has not established a list of disqualifying medical
conditions under §61.53. That could prevent a person from relying on a
driver’s license as the sole evidence of medical qualification. If a
person chooses to exercise sport pilot privileges using an airman
medical certificate, the FAA’s disqualifying medical conditions set
forth under part 67 apply. The ability to certify no known medical
conditions becomes a matter between the pilot and his or her AME. If an
individual’s most recent application for an airman medical certificate
has been denied after examination by an AME, that person would not be
able to use a driver’s license as evidence of medical qualification.
If an individual chooses to medically qualify for light-sport aircraft
operations using a current and valid U.S. driver’s license, then the
restrictions and limitations listed on the U.S. driver’s license apply,
as do those imposed by judicial or administrative order for the
operation of a motor vehicle. The determination as to whether a pilot
has a medical condition that would make him or her unable to operate the
aircraft in a safe manner is the sole responsibility of the pilot. The
ability to certify no known medical conditions that would prohibit the
safe operation of an aircraft is a matter about which a pilot should
consult his or her personal physician.
Those experiencing medical symptoms that would prevent them from safely
exercising the privileges of their sport pilot certificate, or that
raise a reasonable concern, however, cannot claim to have no known
The FAA acknowledges that those interested only in exercising sport
pilot privileges may not seek airman medical certification or may allow
their current airman medical certificate to expire. This is acceptable
under this rule. Depending on the FAA’s experience under this rule,
however, it could choose to establish a list of disqualifying medical
conditions or even revert to requiring airman medical certification if
it becomes apparent that those exercising sport pilot privileges are not
exercising reasonable judgment with regard to their medical fitness to
Question: Is the special issuance of a medical certificate under §67.401
considered a denial of an application for an airman medical certificate?
Response: No. A pilot who has received a special issuance of a medical
certificate may also exercise sport pilot privileges using a U.S.
driver’s license, provided he or she is medically fit to fly.
Remark: The proposed medical provisions discriminate against the
· Those who live in rural Alaska who do not drive and therefore cannot
take advantage of the option of using a driver’s license.
· Those who hold foreign pilot certificates or foreign driver’s
· Those who could qualify for a third-class airman medical certificate
but do not choose or otherwise have the need, desire, or money to have a
U.S. driver’s license.
· Those pilots other than sport pilots who are required to hold an FAA
airman medical certificate.
It is not the FAA’s intention to discriminate against anyone or to
disadvantage those who do not have or cannot obtain a current and valid
U.S. driver’s license. This action provides an alternate means of
compliance with full FAA airman medical certification for sport pilot
certificate holders only and for those who are able to obtain and
maintain a current and valid U.S. driver’s license only. Standards for
those who wish to maintain higher-level pilot certificates and ratings
remain unaffected by this action; therefore this action cannot be
considered discriminatory against them because operations they would
conduct do not fall within the scope of this action.
The FAA understands that there may be individuals in the United States
who may have difficulty traveling to their licensing entities to acquire
a U.S. driver’s license. The FAA notes that it may be similarly
difficult for some individuals to obtain an FAA airman medical
certificate. While the FAA appreciates that requiring those holding a
sport pilot certificate or rating to hold and possess either a current
and valid U.S. driver’s license or a valid airman medical certificate
does place a disproportionately higher burden on those individuals who
live some distance from the appropriate certification resources, no
regulation can have an entirely uniform effect on all entities subject
to its requirements and limitations. The FAA believes that these minimum
standards are necessary and that it would not be in the interest of
safety to alter them because they may place a slightly greater hardship
on certain individuals over others.
Because this rule requires a current and valid U.S. driver’s license, a
foreign driver’s license would not be acceptable. Because of the events
of September 11, 2001 and ongoing harmonization efforts, guidance on
issuing U.S. pilot certificates and airman medical certificates based on
foreign certificates continues to evolve. Current guidance can be found
in FAA Order 8700.1 “General Aviation Inspector’s Handbook,” chapter 29,
“Issue of a U.S. Pilot Certificate on the Basis of a Foreign-Pilot
Remark: Many drivers operate motor vehicles while taking narcotics and
tranquilizers even when counseled not to do so. Also, individuals who
have been advised by their physician not to drive due to a medical
condition may continue to drive anyway.
Response: The FAA acknowledges that people may choose to continue to
drive and even fly against medical advice or while taking certain
medications. What is more, some may not even consult with a private
physician about a medical condition or before taking medication.
Unfortunately, there are those who will take chances and any action the
FAA may take would not dissuade these individuals. Further, this
situation can apply not only to drivers and pilots, but to operators of
any kind of transport vehicle, machinery, or equipment. Fortunately,
however, aviation accident statistics rarely indicate medical factors as
probable cause. This would seem to indicate that, for the most part,
pilots do not take chances flying when they know they are not medically
fit to do so.
Question: Why are the requirements for operating light-sport aircraft
higher than requirements to operate gliders?
Response: Today’s technological advances in light-sport aircraft call
for a set of standards that could no longer be served by those set forth
for balloons and gliders. The FAA is adopting this rule to increase
safety in the light-sport aircraft community by closing gaps in existing
regulations and accommodating new advances in technology. Therefore,
requirements for light-sport aircraft and sport pilot certificate
holders are necessarily more rigid than those for glider operations. The
FAA believes that a permanent and appropriate level of regulation is
necessary. Because the FAA has added more requirements for certification
and training for light-sport aircraft, it also determined that some
medical provisions for sport pilot certificate holders would be
necessary. While airman medical certification is optional for
light-sport operations, some minimum level of proof of general good
health is warranted. The FAA determined that the ability to meet the
medical requirements necessary to obtain a U.S. driver’s license would
Question: Can deaf individuals obtain sport pilot certificate?
Response: Yes. Deaf individuals are eligible to apply for pilot
certificates. Deaf individuals interested in piloting should consult the
FAA website at http://www2.faa.gov/avr/afs/deaffaq.htm.
Question: Will flight instructors and employees of flight schools be
required to adhere to DOT drug-testing policies?
Response: For sport pilot operations, flight instructors and employees
of flight schools are not considered “employees who must be tested” as
defined under part 121, appendix I. Flight instructors with a sport
pilot rating acting as pilot in command of a light-sport aircraft other
than a glider or balloon, however, must adhere to the provisions of
existing §§61.15, 91.17, and 91.19 regarding offenses involving alcohol
Other suggested modifications from commenters
Many commenters provided suggested alternatives to the proposed medical
provisions. Among others, these suggestions included the following:
· Institute a fourth-class airman medical certificate;
· Require a third-class airman medical certificate for those with no, or
no recent, appreciable flight time;
· Require a third-class airman medical certificate for night flight and
· Require an eye examination at a local clinic in lieu of a U.S.
· Have the option of having an evaluation from a private physician once
every 5 years in lieu of a U.S. driver’s license;
· Allow a written medical declaration or certificate of good health to
replace the driver’s license for those who do not want to get a U.S.
driver’s license or an airman medical certificate;
· Do not allow by-mail or on-line renewals of a U.S. driver’s license
for sport pilot operations;
· Have a “grandfather clause” to allow pilots, who might lose airman
medical certification but who have a lifetime of flying experience and
flying time, to continue to fly the aircraft they have flown all their
lives even if that aircraft would not meet the weight restrictions laid
out in the proposal.
FAA response to other suggested modifications from commenters
The FAA considered several viable alternatives to airman medical
certification. As discussed in the proposed rule, the ARAC also proposed
many alternatives. The FAA proposed to allow either airman medical
certification as currently set forth under part 67 or a current and
valid U.S. driver’s license as a means for holders of sport pilot
certificates and ratings to meet medical qualifications because it
wanted to avoid creating a new class of airman medical certificate that
might not be viable. The FAA already has an elaborate airman medical
certification program for higher-rated pilots. If sport pilots do not
want to choose airman medical certification then they choose to be
subject to the medical protocols established by U.S. driver’s licensing
entities. The FAA wanted a viable, proven means of certification such as
that already established within the FAA and among U.S. driver’s
licensing entities. Creating a new class of airman medical certificate
would involve more comprehensive regulations (e.g., amendments to parts
61, 67, and 183) because it would involve new airman certification
rules, new medical standards, and perhaps new designees or an expansion
of the role of existing designees. It would require a new, special
category of disqualifying medical conditions, new forms, new
certificates, and further paperwork and recordkeeping requirements that
light-sport operations do not appear to warrant. Any of these
alternatives proposed by commenters, ARAC, or considered by the FAA
would be difficult to regulate and a burden to implement.
While many of these comments for alternatives and additions to the
proposed sport pilot medical provisions may have merit, the commenters
did not provide cost justification or any detailed discussion of how the
FAA could propose adopting and implementing them.
Editorial comments on proposed medical provisions
One organization recommended that proposed Section 111 be entitled “Must
I hold an airman pilot and medical certificate as a Sport Pilot Flight
Instructor?” rather than “Must I hold an airman medical certificate?” It
recommended that proposed Section 111 be reworded to bring the
requirement of this regulation in line with the requirements of §61.183,
which is to hold a pilot certificate in order to be flight instructor.
Another commenter suggested that the word “requirement,” used in SFAR
No. 89 section 3 (b), should be replaced with the word “reasons.”
According to this commenter, “requirements” is not the correct word
because “requirements” never prevented anyone from speaking, reading, or
understanding English. Using the word “reasons” would allow for
consistent usage of the term under current regulations.
FAA response to editorial comments on proposed medical provisions
The comments requesting editorial changes have merit. The FAA adopts
medical provisions that more clearly define requirements for flight
instructors and that avoid the incorrect use of the terminology “medical
requirements.” The terminology the FAA uses under existing §§61.123,
61.153, 61.183, and 61.213 is “medical reasons,” which is correct.
Other editorial change
The FAA is changing the words “current and valid” when referring to an
airman medical certificate to “valid” to avoid redundancy. An airman
medical certificate is “valid” provided it has not expired as set forth
under existing §61.23. Because there are no recency-of-experience
requirements associated with an airman medical certificate, the word
“current” is redundant and therefore not necessary.
Future Rulemaking on Private Pilots with Weight-Shift-Control or Powered
During the process of drafting the final rule, the FAA recognized that
it did not specifically propose medical eligibility requirements for
private pilots with a weight-shift-control or powered parachute rating.
This would have inadvertently defaulted these pilots to a requirement to
hold at least a third-class airman medical certificate to exercise the
privileges associated with those ratings. This was not the FAA’s intent.
However, because the FAA did not propose and seek public comment on
allowing private pilots with a weight-shift-control or powered parachute
rating to operate those aircraft without holding a third-class airman
medical certificate, the FAA must initiate future rulemaking action. It
should be noted that persons wishing to operate weight-shift-control
aircraft or powered parachutes while exercising sport pilot privileges,
but not private pilot privileges, may do so under this rule. In
addition, under current rules, a weight-shift-control aircraft can be
operated as an experimental powered glider, with an endorsement for
self-launching, without an airman medical certificate.
End of FAA Final Rule Excerpt, Medical
Certification of Airmen for the Operation of Light-Sport Aircraft
Complete Final Sport Pilot Rule