FAR 61.53

Anything pertaining to the new Light Sport Pilots license, or other licensing.
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Doc
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FAR 61.53

Post by Doc »

:cry: Just had a pilot with a C170 and a Taylorcraft BC12-D call to tell me he was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and was on medications. He told me he was letting his 3rd class medical expire, was selling the C170, and would be flying the TAYB as a Sport Pilot. The unfortunate answer was that any medical condition that would disqualify a Medical Certificate would also preclude him from flying under the Sport Pilot rules...this is based on the "catch-all" FAR 61.53. I am absoultely sure this will start a vigorous (and rancorous) discussion on this thread. I look forward to your comments. BTW...this is why I STRONGLY encourage pilots who seek my advice to keep up their 3rd (or Second) Class Certificates. It is cleaner...and keeps the insurance companies happy. Lock and load...I will take all questions. Doc PS: For those who will ask this question...The FAA SW Regional Flight Surgeon's Office in Fort Worth, TX verified this opinion prior to my posting.
Doc - 1T8
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SFC Hiatt
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by SFC Hiatt »

I bet that same FAA office would also say it's wrong to fly down a river or land two Aeronca's at the same time 3,000 feet apart on a 6,000 foot runway. And God forbid we "safely" land off the runway into the wind on those nasty crosswind days when the runway is 90 degrees from ideal. Don't get me wrong, anyone who would tell you what he told you and still expect to legally fly in the eyes of the government is obviously bipolar.

I'm thinking about asking the FAA if my daughter should marry the guy she's dating because I know they will say NO without even meeting him. :D
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joea
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by joea »

Doc,

Thanks for posting this and starting a discussion.

Years ago AOPA published a paperback of "medications and pilots" that was a very good reference book for most of the meds that people take. I returned from the middle east after flying with the Air Force and called AOPA. Asked them about an updated copy of the book and was told that there would never be another, that the FAA and lawyers felt that it was not a good idea.

Sad to see as it gave you half life times for many medications that people take and when you would be legal (and safe) to fly, and then you would declare taking it on your next medical. Never more it seems. Glad I saved my old copy!

Again good to have someone with your knowledge on the forum and thanks for offering to help!

Joe A
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by SFC Hiatt »

Doc, didn't mean to be a smarta$$ it's just the heat here in Baghdad cooking my brain.

Please continue to share your knowledge.
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Doc
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Re: FAR 61.53

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8) Hey Top! My 1971 grunt Medic SE Asia tour and another 5 years in combat arms in (3 Armor and 2 Infantry) during the 70's pretty much gave me a thick skin (LOL)! Thanks for what you are doing for us...it is GREATLY appreciated. Doc (ex-SSG, ex-CW2, ex-MAJ).
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by Captgrumps »

Doc, I noted your post regarding keeping a 3rd class rather than going Light Sport. What is an OF giong to do when his AME retires and a new ones want to reinvent the wheel medically. Example-Have had a medical for 58 years with an interuption/denial due to asthma and medication.(Mostly 1st class) That is in the past.

Have had a 3rd Class medical with no restriction the past ten years. My Doc retires, my medical expires, so I go Light Sport. Since I only fly my Champ now (have no desire to fly bigger, faster and heavier stuff anymore) Light Sport fits the bill. Only exception is they like to charge higher insurance rates becasue of Light Sport regardless of rating and time. Champ rates went up about $400 for coverage even though I have an ATP, multi engine land, Comm privledges single engine land.

I can see if someone is only interested in the Light Sport rating to avoid alot of other requirements, but it would seem that they should make amends for previous ratings/experience. Naturally as the regulaltions and common sense indicates I don't fly sick--as an OF I am looking to be fit to cruise the local countryside from high and check swimming pools in my old age. A mans gotta do something.

Just a few random comments.

Doug
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by seaheli »

Doc,

People with severe migraine's are sometimes treated with "serotonin" medications which fall under one of the medications not allowed.

Do know about these issues?

It is a shame a pilot cannot be allowed to fly because a med that treats depression will greatly help people that have migraine's!

Charles
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by MikeB »

Doug,
I just renewed my insurance at $478 (ground and liability only). I'm not too far behind you as I will be 71 in July. Never had higher than a 3rd class though with about 1000 hours total time. Basically, no health issues other than I take a very light BP medication, 5 mg Lisinopril to stabilize BP (at my request). My insurance doesn't seem to care whether I have a 3rd class or LS as long as I'm 'legal'. I just can't see coughing ( :shock: ) up another $200 or so for another physical when I take a regular once a year plus my bus driver's and ICC physical anyway which I pass with 'flying colors'.

"cept I have a nasty cold today :cry: .

Mike
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by pablo »

I am a physician (gynecologist) but not an AME. My recommendation is not to ever have a physical certificate beyond what you need. I keep my 3rd class valid because I fly my Mooney quite often. Otherwise, I would have let it expire and continue to fly my Champ (1220 lbs) as long as I consider myself a safe pilot from the health point of view. Medications, and diagnosis that would prevent you to keep your 3rd. class DO NOT APPLY, unless you apply for a medical certificate. There are plenty of medical conditions that would prevent you from getting a medical certificate, that have nothing to do with how safe a pilot your are. They continue to be disqualifying mainly because bureacracy inability to adopt to present medical knowledge.
Pablo
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by Roger Anderson »

Doc. What's the difference in requirements between a 2nd and 3rd class medical? I'll soon be 68, think I'm healthy, and get a 2nd class just in case I ever decide to conduct commercial activities. If not, then I just let it roll over into the second year as a 3rd class. However, I haven't flown anything except my Chief in a long time so don't really need a medical at all. If in doubt, how much less are the 3rd class requirements? Thanks for showing up on here. Roger
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by Doc »

Let's see if we can wrap up the current posts. Doc Pablo unfortunately is wrong...the whole point of FAR 61.53 is that the FAA can pull the trigger anytime it wants on a Sport Pilot if a pilot's medical condition would preclude a regular issuance...and that is why Special Issuance should be sought. The FAA just shifted the onus of responsibility back to the pilot. BTW, a rated sailplane pilot does not need a medical for solo flight. Go figure...

Regarding serotonin meds for migraines...if the treatment is temporary, and an adqequate "wash-out" of meds is followed, then the pilot is back to "good health". Depression meds...the FAA's thinking is finally changing...we, as AME's do not have the "official" update from the Federal Air Surgeon yet as to his guidance on this issue. Age related insurance rates...they seem to vary from region to region...and do not make sense. The actuaries all seem to have their own crystal ball. I have successfully negotiated my insurance rates down over the past few years just by challenging them. On the other hand, I have a 75 year old pilot in excellent health with a valid unrestricted 3rd class medical who is required by his insurance company to get a new medical every year!

None of it makes sense...I do not make the rules..and I have a very difficult time explaining rules that are out of step with current medical knowledge!!! What the insurance companies are most comfortable with is a valid medical certificate.

Lastly, the only difference between a 2nd class and a 3rd class is a 32" vision testing requirement for pilots 50 years old and older. With the new progressive lenses, a single pair of glass easily meets vision reuirements for 16", 32" and infinity.

Thanks for your questions/musings. Doc
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by MikeB »

Doc,
Thanks for your detailed observations. We're fortunate to have you on the site. I do have one question though (I may be a little slow). How can the FAA "pull the trigger" on your sport license if they're not involved in the issuance? As you said, they put the responsibility back on to the pilot. I don't think any of us would think of flying if our health wasn't up to the task. It was beautiful in Western Wisconsin yesterday (clear skies and light winds) but I stayed home and worked on the airport mower ( :evil: ) because I'm still at the end stages of a nasty cold.

Some of this makes about as much sense as having a 20 year old fresh out of A & P school with no tube and fabric experience work on your Champ.

MikeB
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by Rick Hadley »

Doc,
While I'm sure there will always be an FAA apparatchik to suggest the most draconian interpretation of the FARs, it would appear that Dr. Bruce Chien and the AOPA's medical advice would contradict that view. Followed to the conclusion you suggest, a pilot with a valid 3rd class medical could not fly if he had a condition that would disqualify him for a 1st class. I doubt it would pass muster in the eyes of an ALJ if push came to shove. The mandate for 61.53(c)(2) is a valid driver's license and self-certification of the ability to safely operate an aircraft. Now if the particular condition you describe could reasonably be construed to prohibit driving, then that would be a different matter.

Rick, who is not an attorney but married into a family full of them.
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by Doc »

Good questions...now I will reveal why I have been cogitating on this subject. The Sport Pilot Rule was promulgated due to political considerations after extensive lobbying by EAA, AOPA, and other alphabet organizations. Personally, I believe it was a good idea, although I also believe the 600 kg limit should be expanded. IMHO the FAA is NOT looking to hurt Sport Pilots, but a very highed placed official shared with me his impression that accidents involving Sport Pilots are climbing, and are probably related to medical issues - even though they are purposely coded out as pilot error.

The insurance companies have access to medical data bases, to include pharmacy sales, and will use any excuse to void policies. Yes, you can self-certify and use your driver's license. If you have an accident coded out as pilot error, you can fight your insurance company over the issue. Very few pilots are ultimately denied medical certificates, and again, IMHO, those denied should not be flying...at least with non-flying passengers. Most of the pilots I speak with who do not wish to pursue special issuance do so based upon cost considerations of additional and repetitive medial testing.

Again, having a valid medical is cleaner than following a grey zone of a valid driver's license. As an aging pilot, I hedge my bets by having a valid medical for my advanced aircraft, and flying a BC12-D and 7AC in case I have to go "Sport Pilot". Having said that, I still have to ask myself every day if I am capable of flying an aircraft safely, and with my family in it....that in a nutshell, is what FAR 61.53 is all about.

Although my aircraft are insured, I am absolutely convinced that if my insurance company could pin a medical reason for an accident, that insurance would not cover my liability. As I said at the beginning of this post, this issue is contentious, but my FAA medical superiors all feel that FAR 61.53 applies to all pilots. Best wishes. Doc
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1943 O-58B NC47185 (43-26975)
1946 7AC NC2241E - "Dearly Departed"
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Re: FAR 61.53

Post by Paul Agaliotis »

I think this topic is starting to fit into the catagory of " Rocketscientology". The reason the accident rate for sport pilots is increasing is due to the fact the number of sport pilots are increasing. Most highly placed officials are well versed in the "spin doctoring" of of raw data.
The insurance companies are pretty cautious to deny a claim. I haven't heard of them doing so. In one case I am aware of a student pilot crashed his plane with a non- certificated passenger aboard, he was past due on his currency check and the plane was out of Annual. The insurance company had every right to deny this claim, but they paid for all expenses. I guess they figured it was cheaper to pay off than to fight it in court.
I refuse to have a company dictate how I will operate my pastime. I get enough of that at work.
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