Third Class Medical Reform

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Congress finally passed third class medical reform into law last July.  They gave the FAA one year to implement the law.

The latest FAAST Blast from the FAA includes this paragraph, entitled FAA Making Progress on New Pilot Medical Qualifications:

The FAA is working to implement Section 2307 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-190), Medical Certification of Certain Small Aircraft Pilots. In the Act, Congress outlined an alternative medical qualification in lieu of holding an FAA medical certificate. The FAA must draft rules to meet the Congressional mandate. We have reached out to the general aviation community, including groups which have expressed a desire to partner with the FAA during the implementation. We look forward to working with them to successfully implement the provisions of Section 2307 on time.

When I run that paragraph through my personal government-ese filter, I see:

We don’t want to enact medical reform, but we have to.  AOPA and EAA keep bugging us asking about our progress.  Quit asking already!  We’re going to drag our feet and take every minute of the full year we’ve been allocated.

Their “progress” report doesn’t report any progress, except that they’ve talked with the alphabet groups (I would guess it’s actually the other way around, with the alphabet groups talking to them).  Everything else is presented in future tense.

I renewed my third class medical a couple months ago.  I realize this was probably the last FAA medical I’ll ever have, and it feels good.  No longer will I have to fear that inexplicable Sport Pilot Catch-22: If I let my medical expire, I am free to fly Sport Pilot as long as I can self-certify that I am medically fit to do so; but if I submit to and fail a third class medical exam, I can’t ever fly Sport Pilot.

AOPA and EAA have both written extensively about what they believe the medical reform will look like, including seeing our family doctor from time to time, so I won’t duplicate all that here.  Both organizations deserve a hearty pat on the back: they persistently bulldogged this through the legislative process; they consulted on the inevitable compromises; they helped keep reform on track without the bill crippling its original intent.

Sorry, no FNL Pilots Association Christmas Party this year

In years past we held our Christmas party in the modular terminal building, but that’s now occupied by Greenride. Last year we co-hosted the party with EAA Chapter 515 at Rick Raez’s home.  But this year we weren’t able to secure a spot.

EAA Chapter 515 and jetCenter have sent out invitations and are hosting their own holiday gatherings — please contact the respective organization if you need more information.

Airport Emergency Drill

As a part of the Federal regulations to keep our airport’s Operating Certificate, FNL is required to perform an annual review of their emergency response. This includes everything from snow and ice removal to emergency training. Usually they create an event and with the help of a table top unit, they work through how to solve the problem, but every three years they must participate in a “live” scenario.

A mock plane crash was planned for September 4th with units from Loveland, Poudre, and Windsor participating. Using the airport’s current carrier as a benchmark where they knew what kind of plane, how many passengers, crew and how much fuel was on board, they then created a scenario of a crash where the plane broke up. They simulated the “plane” with an old bus filled with pallets as the main fuselage, and a van with the doors taped shut for the cockpit, which in the crash scenario had “separated” from the cabin on impact.

Once they set the bus on fire, it was called into 911 as a plane crash drill. It took about four minutes for the fire department to arrive and put out the fire.

Then the rescue began in earnest. A command post was set up and triage began. The victims/patients were EMS students complete with moulage, a quick, cost effective and convincing makeup that creates realistic training. Jason stated that this gave the students a good perspective on what victims’ experience in a real emergency event. He also explained that all emergency units were staged on Earhart to avoid any possible accidents in responding to this exercise. He considered it a great drill.

“The idea was to push everyone to their limits to make sure they had a solid plan in place and to make any changes needed.” He stated. “Although there were no surprises, there is always something you can learn from these events.” He continued. “This makes sure all participants understand how their piece of the event should work. They test how to get in and out safely to the disaster site, communications, chain of command, and other vital aspects that would lead to the success of the event.”

Following the exercise, the airport furnished lunch for the 70 volunteers where they had discussions, raised questions, brought up views and lessons learned that will go into the after-action report that the Loveland Fire Department is responsible for.

The entire exercise only closed a couple of taxi ways and had no impact on the daily activities of the airport.

I am happy to announce both the cardboard pilot and co-pilot survived, after being cut out through the roof of the fuselage.