January 26, 2017 – The incoming Trump administration put a freeze on new federal regulations last week, ordering that no new regulations be published in the Federal Register that serves as official notification of the nation’s regulations and policies from the executive branch of government. As part of that order, all regulations that have been issued but have yet to take effect have had their effective date delayed by 60 days.

Does that affect the third-class medical reform rule announced by the FAA on January 10 and, if so, how? EAA’s initial contact with the FAA brought no clear answer, as the agency was exploring whether the freeze would impact this and dozens of pending regulations. That also includes the recently finalized Part 23 small aircraft certification regulations.

“As the third-class medical reform regulation is drawn directly from a law passed by Congress and signed by the president, its existence cannot be negated by Executive Order,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “Such a freeze is not unprecedented when a new administration and party enters the White House, and it is intended to allow time to review regulations issued under a previous administration. Often the freeze is lifted after a short period of review to allow the workings of government to continue. That could very well occur well before the May 1 effective date for the third-class medical regulation, but only time will tell.”

Elliott adds that in a worst-case scenario, the effective date for the regulation would move to July 1. The law passed by Congress and signed by former President Barack Obama last July expressly stated that if the provisions of the law were not in place one year after the president’s signature, the law would automatically become effective. That means medical reform as passed by Congress will go into effect no later than July 15, 2017.

EAA will continue to follow this issue closely and is in contact with the FAA and congressional representatives urging that all possible measures be taken to allow the rule to go into effect on schedule. Check the EAA website and e-Hotline regularly for further updates.