Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
You pilots have probably heard about a proposal to exempt certain pilots, who fly recreationally, from having to hold a Class 3 Medical Certificate. Instead they would take training on how to better make their own decisions about whether they are fit for flight. Their drivers license would be the document which shows they meet basic medical requirements.
This proposal is open for comments from the public now. I made a comment, which I’ve included below. If you are interested in the subject, I encourage you to chime in also. You don’t need to be a pilot, or a US citizen, to comment. Just go to Regulations.gov and look for Document ID FAA-2012-0350-0001. I encourage you to read about the proposal, and consult EAA’s guides for commenting (PDF).
For those who haven’t heard, here is some background. Pilots who fly for fun with US licenses, for example me, need to be medically fit enough to make the flight safely. For most general aviation pilots, that means getting a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate. Those who fly for pay need a stricter Class 1 medical, those who fly for fun can get a Class 3 medical. I agree with those who make the case that the money the FAA spends on the Class 3 medical, and the restrictions it places on pilots exercising their freedom to fly, is out of proportion to the small safety benefit all that hassle provides. Not that many accidents result from unfit pilots. A medical exam once every two (for me) or five (for you whippersnappers) years doesn’t really catch all that much. And both anecdotes and my own experience say that the FAA medical office imposes creeping burdens on pilots by a) demanding more and more doctors statements, each costing someone money, and b) delaying the issuance of certificates, grounding pilots. I would be happy if the Class 3 medical were abolished altogether.
The aviation groups who know these things say that the FAA is not willing to contemplate abolishing the Class 3 medical. (Someone has tried, and just got turned down.) They think, however, that they might succeed in persuading the FAA to exempt certain pilots doing certain low-stakes recreational flights from having to hold the Class 3 Medical Certificate. Two of the groups, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), just submitted a request for this exemption. They think they have carefully crafted it to maximise its chances of getting approved by the FAA. For instance, it requests an exemption from a rule, instead of a change to a rule.
Here’s what I wrote.
I am a US citizen and private pilot, resident in Canada and flying recreationally in Canada and the USA. I hold a Private Pilots License and 3rd Class Medical certificate from each of Transport Canada, and the FAA. I have about 220 total hours of total pilot time.
I am exactly the kind of safety-oriented, recreational pilot who would benefit from this exemption. And I am suffering from the cost and burden of jumping through the hoops for an FAA 3rd Class medical certificate, costs and burdens which I argue do not greatly increase safety.
I am in my late 40s, and have had two chronic medical conditions for decades. I disclosed both when I applied for my FAA medical certificate six years ago. The FAA decided that one condition required annual physician reports, and the other didn’t. Then, last year, the FAA started to require annual reports on the other condition. Complying with these reports costs hundreds of dollars, and considerable hassle, each year.
However, these are chronic conditions which don’t prevent me from flying safely. When flareups happen, I detect them and ground myself until they pass. It is that personal discipline which provides medical safety.
I am on the verge of abandoning the FAA 3rd Class Medical, and with it any flight of US-registered aircraft, due to this burden. My contribution to the US economy will drop accordingly.
The exemption requested here would relieve me of the annual burden of the 3rd Class Medical, a mechanism which doesn’t provide much safety. And it would reinforce my training and personal decision-making, which is the mechanism which does ensure my safety.
I request the FAA fully count the status quo burden of a creeping rise in special reporting requirements for 3rd Class Medical applicants, in evaluating this proposal.
CZBB, Boundary Bay airport, is my home field. I rent aircraft from Pacific Flying Club there. And the friendly air traffic controllers in the CZBB control tower are my rock and my safety. Saturday, I was at the airport with some spare time, and lousy weather made it a quiet day on the airfield. So I drove over to the tower for a brief visit. I had a great chat and got some nice pictures.
I think it’s great for pilots to visit towers and ATC sites, and for controllers to fly along with pilots. During my primary flight training, my instructor, Raeleen Ranger, made a point of getting me up into the tower at CYPK, Pitt Meadows Airport. It was interesting to see their gear, and invaluable to put a human face on the voices who tolerated my bumbling in, and on, the air. I admire the patience and supportiveness of the controllers at training airports, like Pitt Meadows and Boundary Bay, who give novice pilots a safe place to learn and make mistakes. I was particularly touched when, after I flew my first solo, a CYPK controller was one of the people who came down to congratulate me. Continue Reading »
This spring my spouse Ducky and I took up paragliding training. The training so far has given us many vivid experiences, and I’m itching to share those stories with you. Let me start by telling you why we wanted to enter the sport.
I’m a big fan of flying, in just about every form. I’m a licensed private pilot. I’ve done skydiving in the past. I go nuts over airplanes and airshows. I have dreams where I’m able to simply leap in the air and swim (wait, so does everyone else). I enjoy scuba diving and swimming in part because they let me move in three dimensions. My beloved spouse, however, isn’t really excited by any of these pastimes. We have gone scuba diving together. But she finds my powered small aircraft to be noisy, cold, and boring. Flying has mostly been a “me” activity, without her participation. She in turn has her “me” activities that don’t involve me. Continue Reading »
I write in opposition to the [United States Transportation Security Administration]’s proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP), Docket No. TSA–2008–0021. I am a United States citizen residing in Canada, and a private pilot licensed by Transport Canada and the FAA. I fly for fun. [Background: this blog post consists of a public comment I just submitted to the docket.]
Security is valuable, and I’m in support of sensible measures to advance security. But security measures are trade-offs, and the trade-off has to be a good one. The benefits must outweigh the costs. The TSA’s proposed LASP fails this test spectacularly. The costs will be huge, the benefits meagre. Additionally, the TSA’s justification is based on flawed reasoning. Continue Reading »
One of my community service projects is volunteering with CASARA BC, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association in British Columbia. They are a great bunch of folks providing a very important service. But they are hidden in a Romulan cloaking device as far as the Web is concerned. When I tried to join them, I couldn’t find a single page that described the basics of who what where when how and why they are and do. So I’m writing it, and here it is. I hope this will be helpful to others, at least until CASARA BC gets an official recruiting page up.
Or until the one obscure BC Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA BC) page can be discovered by a straightforward search. (A sneakily search-engine friendly link to it is part of my contribution.)