Thursday, November 17, 2022 2:45AM
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators are requiring pilots of scorching air balloons carrying paying passengers to cross an annual medical examination, just like the requirement for pilots of business planes and helicopters.
The Federal Aviation Administration adopted a long-delayed ultimate rule on Wednesday that features the requirement for a medical certificates, which incorporates examination by an FAA-approved examiner.
Congress accepted the requirement in 2018 and directed FAA to undertake a rule detailing the requirement by the spring of 2019. When that deadline got here and went, lawmakers accused the company of ignoring Congress’ instructions.
Balloon pilots had lengthy been exempt from the requirement. The FAA as an alternative went together with voluntary tips set by an business commerce group. The Nationwide Transportation Security Board really helpful ending the exemption, nevertheless.
Security board members criticized the FAA after a 2016 crash in Texas that killed all 16 folks on board, the deadliest scorching air balloon accident in U.S. historical past. Investigators decided that the pilot was in all probability impaired by a wide range of medicines when he flew into an influence line. The person had instructed his psychiatrist that he stopped taking his antidepressant medicine, and the psychiatrist documented the person’s temper as “not good.”
Robert Sumwalt, then the chairman of the security board, questioned why the FAA endorsed voluntary necessities written by a balloon business commerce group as an alternative of tightening rules.
Final November, the FAA revealed proposal to require medical certificates. About 200 folks and teams commented earlier than the company issued its ultimate rule.
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