12:38 PM

Another win
for AOPA

Those guys and gals up in Frederick that are the backbone of AOPA must never sleep, because every time I log into aopa.org, I see something else from them that just blows my mind...like this:

Trips to the doctor's office for aviation medical certificates just got a lot easier. The federal air surgeon has determined that aviation medical examiners (AMEs) may now accept printouts from AOPA's TurboMedical, as long as the printouts are signed in the presence of the AME or AME's staff. Until now, AOPA members who used TurboMedical had to transcribe the information from their printouts to FAA Form 8500-8.
AOPA Director of Medical Certification Gary Crump had this to say:
This is a tremendous benefit and advantage for our members. The enhancements should really speed up a pilot's visit to his AME and reduce the number of errors caused by faulty transcription. FAA aeromedical officials were satisfied with some changes AOPA made to the TurboMedical layout, which eliminated confusion in the FAA's Aerospace Medical Certification Division. The one catch is that it needs to be attached to a blank Form 8500-8 for tracking purposes.
Major league hat tip to AOPA for this. Up next, will they be successful in getting FAA to extend the driver's license medical now used for Sport Pilot to Private Pilot as well? Would that be a good thing? While I can see obvious benefits to allowing more pilots to fly when they otherwise would have lost their medicals, do we really want to share the skies with them?

For instance, there are plenty of legal prescription drugs that can impair a driver's ability to drive a car, but there are no actual restrictions...only “recommendations” to avoid driving and operating "heavy machinery." There in lies a major gray area with the driver's license medical. Trying to drive the family D8 Caterpiller to the store after dropping a quart of Nyquil down your throat becomes a really bad idea. But is it illegal? What about someone who is getting a little too friendly with handfuls of prescription meds? This country's dependency on too many pain killers usually only comes to light when young starlets die or crash their Bentleys, but the truth is, far more regular Joes and Janes eat far too many meds that are freely offered by their doctor. This very unhealthy activity keeps them from flying under Private Pilot, but could easily be hidden under Sport Pilot with a driver's license medical.

I believe the solution to easing Private Pilot medical requirements is to simplify the process much like AOPA has. But instead of still having to see an AME, wouldn't it be nice to see your regular family physician for your yearly checkup and have them verify all is true on the TurboMedical form before signing you off?

Or is this just too obvious to ever become reality?

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