Several months ago, I wrote about the 3rd Class Medical Reform and what it meant for pilots. Recently, the FAA published a new rule called BasicMed which is the latest in the medical reform issue.
In a Nut Shell
In the wake of the 3rd Class Medical Reform ruling, BasicMed comes as a relief for pilots that have held a valid medical certificate within the last 10 years – this look-back period starts July 15, 2016 and applies to regular and special issuance medical certificates. However, you cannot just go back to flying if you had a medical certificate revoked in that period.
First, pilots must find a state-license physician and complete the associated checklist for the BasicMed. Next, an online aeromedical course must be taken and passed. These tasks must be done in that order as the information will need to be transmitted on successful completion. The online course has to be taken every two years and pilots must visit their primary physician every four years at least.
As we saw in the 3rd Class Reform ruling, the pilots that complete the prerequisites for BasicMed will be able to fly aircraft with up to six passengers and weighing up to 6,000 pounds, in IFR or VFR, day or night, up to 18,000 feet and 250 knots in the United Sates. However, BasicMed prohibits flying for compensation or hire. While not being able to exercise the privilege of a full commercial license, it is important to note that some preexisting medical conditions make flying for hire inherently dangerous.
Currently, there is not an online aeromedical course, but AOPA.org is currently working to have the FAA approve their course “Fit to Fly”.
What This Means for General Aviation
This particular ruling is a big deal for those in general aviation. This means that many pilots that were precluded under the old 3rd Class Medical rules now have the chance to take to the skies again at a reduced cost with almost all of their previous privileges, excluding flying for hire. While the ruling is but days old at this point, it will be interesting to see if this will revitalize the general aviation population and perhaps to encourage younger generations to fly.
Is this rule a big deal? Of course! As a proponent of general aviation, anything that gets people out there back flying is a good thing. As someone who has seen friends lose their medicals for innocuous reasons, I hope BasicMed allows them to get back to the skies where they belong.
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For more on this rule, check out these articles:
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