The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US has released the new BasicMed rules for private pilots, which come into force on 1 May.
The new rules enable a private pilot to fly legally without a Class 3 medical certificate, although the Class 3 medical has not been deleted.
General aviation lobby groups in the USA have been working to introduce new rules for PPLs for several years, looking to replace the Class 3 medical, which was seen as onerous and unnecessary.
"BasicMed is the best thing to happen to general aviation in decades," said US AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker.
"By putting medical decisions in the hands of pilots and their doctors, instead of the FAA, these reforms will improve safety while reducing burdensome and ineffective bureaucracy that has thwarted participation in general aviation."
During the announcement, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, "I believe BasicMed is a win for the general aviation community, and I'm happy that our FAA team has brought it across the finish line."
A pilot can fly under BasicMed if they:
- Have a US driver's license
- Have held a valid medical at any time after 15 July 2006
- Have completed a specific medical education course within the past 24 calendar months
- Have received a comprehensive medical examination from a State-licensed GP within the previous four years
- Make certain health attestations and agree to a National Driver Register check.
Under some circumstances, pilots suffering specific conditions can still operate under BasicMed if they are being treated for the condition.
BasicMed rules restrict operations to aircraft with no more than five passengers and a maximum take-off weight not exceeding 2721 kg. The flight cannot be a commercial operation.
The FAA will permit BasicMed pilots to fly under both VFR and IFR, but the altitude cannot exceed FL180 and the speed is restricted to 250 knots.
After 1 May, pilots will still have the option of maintaining their Class 3 medical if they prefer.