by Charlton (Chuck) Stanley, weekend writer
Last August, I wrote a blog post entitled The FAA and NTSB vs. Common Sense. The reader can save time by going back and reading that post at the link, because it sets out the main premises of this article.
The FAA has been under growing pressure from all segments of the aviation community to relax the standards for a Third Class medical certificate. This pressure has come from recreational pilots, manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft components, small airport operators, and small businesses. Part of the reason for this pressure is that general aviation is slowly dying.
When the FAA was created, their primary mission was to promote aviation. That includes making it safe and affordable for the flying public. However, the FAA, being bureaucrats who hate to give up power and control once it is in their grasp, asked for comments on a proposed rule change.
That was back in 2009. The initial proposal was denied in 2010. The proposed rule was resurrected, but the FAA has been slow-walking the changes–for more than five years. There has been virtually no progress toward doing away with the Third Class Medical certificate.
Last year, while being questioned, FAA officials made some vague concessions, but would not be specific.
Instead of promoting aviation, I have come to the conclusion that some segments of the FAA resemble a certain character in the Dilbert comic strip; Mordac, the Preventer of Information Services, also known as Mordac the Refuser.
Exasperated, several members of the bipartisan House and Senate Aviation Caucus introduced H.R. 3708: The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act of 2013 (GAPPA). S2103, an identical measure, was introduced in the Senate.
This year, we have a new Congress, and the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act 2 was introduced in the House (H.R. 1062) and the Senate (S.571) last Thursday, Feb. 25, 2015. GAPPA-2 will protect general aviation pilots from liability on charitable flights, extend legal protections to FAA representatives, and require FAA contractors to provide information under Freedom of Information Act requests.
A group of aviation industry leaders sent identical letters to the Senators and Representatives who introduced the GAPPA-2 bills in Congress this week.