Happy New Year and welcome to a new decade! Like me, you’re probably wondering where the last nine years went. I recall one of the last conversations with my mom before she passed at age 84 in 2009. I was lamenting about how fast the previous year had gone by and that time seemed to go faster the older we get. She replied, “Well, you think it goes by fast now, wait until you’re my age!”
So here we are now in 2020, a date that seemed so far in the future not long ago. As 2019 closes out, I first want to thank all of you, AOPA members and PPS participants, for your support of AOPA’s mission and programs. Although you hear us say it often, your Association couldn’t do what we do without all of you doing what you do—most importantly, occupying our national airspace with your airplanes! Our airspace system, despite the shortcomings, is the safest and most efficient in the world. Although we must give credit to the government regulators where it’s due, the system works because pilots who fly in the system make it work. Members like you help us tremendously in our advocacy efforts to promote General Aviation as the national gem that it is.
Looking back at the year just past, our Pilot Information Center received over 73,000 phone, email, and chat contacts, while our Member Services group handled over 93,000 similar contacts from members! Those are impressive numbers that tell us that members are engaged and are out there flying!
Another measure of success is the number of pilots flying with BasicMed, and as of year’s end, almost 53,000 pilots have qualified since the rule became effective in May 2017. Probably not since product liability reform back in 1994 has a single initiative done more to energize general aviation. It is a win that AOPA worked on for decades and the success of the program is seen by the numbers of participants.
Another late 2019 achievement is the FAA’s announcement of a new policy allowing special issuance consideration for commercial pilots using insulin for diabetes treatment. After more than 20 years of successful medical certification for third-class pilots, the policy will allow professional pilots to qualify for first- and second-class certification under tightly monitored guidelines.
The FAA has struggled with processing delays since the government furlough in December 2018 and that was a persistent problem throughout 2019. We all hope that the long wait times will be less in 2020, but that is still a big question mark, so plan accordingly if you will be applying for a medical that may require special issuance during the year.
Above all, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about medical certification or any aviation-related issues. Our Pilot Information Center and PPS specialists are here to help! Have a great year and get out there and fly!