I apologize for the long text in advance. Maybe I am wrong or not seeing something right, but here is how it appears...
The problem I personally see with "medical reform" isn't the FAA alone. We're looking at a plethora of possible outcomes of such a "regulation relax" and congressional delegates may not be the people we wish to depend on. Politicians work because they sense votes, not because they understand the problem, even remotely. Proof of that is apparent everywhere in society. Politicians will paint clouds pink for the chance of another dirty vote and we know it. But, the law of popularity rules - so by all means- I think we should use them for what they are: "Useful Crooks & Idiots". If for nothing else, then to get rules and regulations passed that make sense and hold water. But, politicians can't be the only (lame) horse we have on the farm?!First:
I think pilots and general aviation pilots are very very hard to mobilize into taking collaborative action. It doesn't even work between most of the associations. The resulting net sum is that maybe two-, best case five-thousand directly affected
pilots will petition the FAA and policymakers, however the large part of the GA pilot population is not affected by medical problems quite yet. People who do not derive direct benefit (financial or otherwise) could just shrug and move on, like they do on most grass roots advocacy efforts. If you have never feared for your medical, you are less likely to pipe up for those who have been denied or let their medical lapse. Second:
I see tremendous imbalances in the plan to leave Class II and I medicals unaffected by the reduction in regulatory burden.
Medical exams are "moment snapshots" of a pilots general health, the very same holds true for Class II and I medical holders. I have seen two fresh Class I medical holders drop dead within days of passing their medical exams. Completely undiscovered, unsuspected, non indicative, but very deadly cardiovascular events... POP and the show was over! If we are to look at medical reform, we need to do more than just use a milkmaids thesis, thinking that no medical requirement will somehow lead to a boost in pilot numbers. The sport pilot certificate did not do ANYTHING to help. Glider pilots in the U.S. need no medical at all - yet - the sport is dying a slow and painful death.Third:
Anyone who has ever been denied a medical will be hard-pressed to argue that they are suddenly fit to fly again, just because the medical requirement no longer exists. Again, if such was the case, gliders and sport airplanes would have experienced explosive growth. We'd be writing SPC's left and right, yet I think less than 10.000 have been written.Last:
I think the insurance companies will sense a market and capitalize on the weakness of the system. A possible valid argument: A person previously denied will not receive insurance coverage. Boom. Now what? The insurance companies could further develop plans to require an independent medical exam for just insurance purposes and they could already be working with today's opponents of the medical reform, to stick it to the man after-all. The Medical Examiners are not all too happy about the idea either... I have yet to meet a business person, voluntarily giving up revenue just to help a minority of customers save money.
Besides the risk of having a "knee-jerk regulatory relax" in place which will later be repealed or destroyed or subjected to tremendous liability lawsuits, I think the Monster is appearing dressed like a sheep. In the end, medical reform that is meaningful and beneficial to GA will continue to cover hot topic risk items currently affecting safety in the NAS and for people on the ground. Increasing mental illness cases or seeing accidents caused by people with mental issues/ history as well as a new generation of ADD/ ADHD kids on terrible medication will bring a new level of problem we haven't seen before.
EASA/ FCL has taught me, during the last several months, that despite a number of countries with national laws and regulations contributing to the mix, we have the easier, more logical, better thought out medical certificate playground. We issue "Safety Pilot Only" medicals, requiring a medically deficient pilot to be accompanied by another pilot. I am not yet through the system, but I can already tell that regaining my medical here will be cheaper and easier than a single ordered specialist exam in the states would have been. Now, we don't have the slimmest people here in Germany, but your NECK SIZE won't be considered in determining your fitness to fly. Problem is that those who come up with those ideas, sneak
them on the books. See: Sleep Apnea. Nobody knew about this until it hit the aviation press - true story.
This increasing sneaking in itself can only be part of a long planned war declared on General Aviation. Its time we react to this, aggressively and as a group. Its time to stop separating bush pilots from paved surface pilots, separate those from seaplane loving people, keep 91 commercial pilots from 135 charter pilots and meanwhile have a million people thinking - but nobody acting. What or who are we, as a group? What good is a 1000 soldiers, sitting duck with no target? Where are these shining leadership figures who have the ability to actually mobilize?
I think we need to sit together and hammer our way out of this mess.
We've caused it by being silent, fat and happy for decades - we probably will need to fix it. The FAA is a tool - not God.
The FAA's mission and mandate is crystal clear. Whatever is done or reformed will be the result of PRESSURE.
Its time for us to start fighting for "NextGenGA
" - because my friends, we've been burning the candle from both ends, for way to long.
I've gone once around the block and arrive at this broken record conclusion, again:
Tomorrows effective advocacy work requires: .......... INVOLVED PILOTS and COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS AMONGST ASSOCIATIONS.Who, if not us? When, if not now? How, if not this way?
Don't get me wrong, I'd love nothing more than a sensible, logical way to get medicals to go poof. I consider them senseless bureaucratic dinosaur style left-overs from a time when rubber boots where still made out of wood. Some of my closest friends are grounded or unwilling to enter into a bargaining fight with a system that is geared against them. How many pilots do you know who are denied a medical, but you'd fly with them in a heartbeat?
If we've truly learned that its time to act, then lets work together and act. Now.
With the current level of turf wars, stonewalling and institutionalized fragmentation within General Aviation, I just can't see how...