The long-awaited FAA Light Sport Aircraft and Sport pilot certification is effective September 1, 2004. A key issue with implementation of this new regulation is the liberalization of medical qualifications to exercise the privileges of the Sport pilot certificate.
The pilot may exercise the privileges of a Sport pilot certificate with EITHER a valid Airman's Medical Certificate, OR in most cases, a valid U.S. driver's license. An examination by an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) and medical certificate is not required to fly as a Sport pilot, similar to pilots of balloons and gliders. The pilot is obliged to make a self-certification assessment before every flight that there is no known medical defect that would interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft.
However, pilots who have had their last FAA medical application/certificate denied, suspended or revoked or had their Special Issuance Authorization withdrawn MAY NOT exercise the privileges of a Sport pilot certificate.
If the pilot's last medical certificate or Special Issuance has simply expired, but has not been suspended, denied or revoked, the pilot may use a valid US driver's license for Sport Pilot operations.
Regaining Medical Eligibility
Pilots who have had a denial or suspension of an FAA medical certificate may become eligible to fly as a Sport pilot by two methods.
First, they may re-apply and be issued a new Airman's Medical Certificate, if they are qualified. They are then immediately eligible for any pilot operations, including Sport pilot, authorized by the class of medical certificate they hold. However, pilots who reapply for a medical certificate and are again denied would not be eligible for sport pilot operations.
Secondly, pilots whose most recent medical application/certificate has been denied or revoked may submit updated medical information to the FAA Aeromedical Certification Division (AMCD). The AMCD will consider authorizing the pilots to exercise any class of privileges they apply for only after review of relevant medical data. Currently, the safety and health standards applied are the same as those applied to 3rd Class airman medical certificates or higher. There are no specific "Sport Pilot medical standards".
Disqualifying Defects Listed in 14 CFR 67
Fifteen medical conditions are listed as specifically disqualifying in 14 CFR 67 ? Medical Standards (formerly known as FAR Part 67). The Federal Air Surgeon's current policy would not restrict pilots with these conditions from participating in Sport pilot operations if FAA medical authorities have not been notified of the condition and issued a denial. Since Sport pilot operations do not require a medical certificate, the Federal Air Surgeon has determined that only the requirements of 14 CFR 67.53 apply, and the rest of Part 67 does not apply to sport pilots. As one AME described, this seems to represent the FAA equivalent of the ?Don?t Ask?Don?t Tell? policy.
The 15 disqualifying conditions specified in 14 CFR 67 include:
Coronary heart disease that has been treated, or if untreated, that has been symptomatic or clinically significant
Cardiac valve replacement
Permanent cardiac pacemaker
Personality disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly manifested itself by overt acts
Disturbances of consciousness without satisfactory explanation of cause
Transient loss of nervous system function(s) without satisfactory explanation of cause
In theory, a pilot who has had a heart transplant or seizure may fly if they have a valid driver's license and their physician has indicated there are no restrictions on their activities.
This current FAA interpretation of the Sport pilot medical requirements presents a dilemma to pilots with the above disqualifying conditions.
The dilemma facing pilots who would like to exercise privileges requiring 1st, 2nd or 3rd Class medical certificates is whether to request a special issuance for a disqualifying condition. If their request is denied, they are not eligible for ANY operations, including Sport pilot. If they do not report the condition, they are limited to Sport pilot operations only, assuming they hold a valid US driver's license. This issue pertains not only to those 15 diagnoses listed above, but also to other conditions such as cancer, vision problems and cardiac arrhythmias to name but a few.
The Fall 2004 Federal Air Surgeon's Medical Bulletin will have further information on this subject.
Summary of Sport Pilot Medical Requirements
Last Medical Certificate or Special Issuance
Valid US Driver?s License
Authorized Sport Pilot Operations*
Revoked Denied Suspended
* Pilot must hold Sport pilot certificate
For further information on this subject, please search for related links in our Information Resource section, or contact the VFS physician staff for specific advice using our Confidential Questionnaire.