CHESTERFIELD — Legislation pushed by Rep. Todd Rokita to change the medical certification for pilots is awaiting new regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rokita, R-4th District, was at the Anderson Municipal Airport on Wednesday to discuss the proposed changes with the local Experimental Aircraft Association.
The change to the Third Class Medical Certification will save pilots up to $150 per year by allowing them to have a form signed by a family doctor once every four years.
He first introduced the legislation in 2014. It was opposed by the airline pilots union, but the bill was passed and signed into law by President Barack Obama in July.
Rokita said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is required by law to have the new regulations in place by July 15, 2017, and he expects the new form for doctors to sign to be unveiled in January for public comment.
Larry Miller, a Yorktown pilot, said the medical certification change covers aircraft weighing less than 6,000 pounds, allows up to five passengers and the pilot, and to an altitude of 18,000 feet.
“It’s for private, not for hire, planes,” Miller said. “It is for pilots flying for pleasure. You have to be found medically fit to fly by a family doctor once every four years.”
Rokita said initial resistance to the change focused on allowing a pilot to fly without a medical certificate.
“I told him we allow people to drive a 6,000-pound SUV down I-69 and we don’t know their medical condition,” he said.
Rokita said the previous effort hit a “nail in the coffin” with the airline pilots union opposed the changes in 2014.
“It was unheard of for them to come out against a regulatory reform,” he said.
Rokita said the current Congress passed a bill in the House and some changes were made in the Senate before it was signed by President Obama.
The legislation grandfathers in any pilot that received a Third Class Medical Certification in the past decade.
“A major question is if you family doctor is not an aviator, will they sign the FAA form?" Rokita said. "There will be a new list of parameters for doctors to follow; they will be different from the current parameters.”
He said the new rules and forms will be crucial to the change in the medical certification licensing.
“In theory, it could become worse if some doctors won’t sign the form,” Rokita said.