As you may know, when Congress passed the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Extension Act of 2010, Public Law (P.L.) 111-216, it imposed an August 2, 2013 deadline upon Part 121 pilot flightcrew members by which time the pilots must hold ATP certificates in order to fly for a Part 121 air carrier. Interestingly, the Act doesn’t specifically require that Part 121 pilots hold a certain class of medical certificate. However, since the Act requires that all pilot flightcrew members will be exercising the privileges of an ATP certificate, under 14 C.F.R. § 61.23 the pilots will also be required to hold first class medical certificates. As a reminder, the FAA recently issued an InFO 13004reminding Part 121 air carriers of the new requirements and the pending August 2, 2013 deadline.
As a practical matter, the 1st class medical certificate requirement is probably a non-issue. After all, many, if not most, Part 121 air carriers already require that pilot flightcrew members, whether they hold a commercial or ATP certificate, also have a valid 1st class medical certificate. However, whether the Act’s ATP requirement will positively impact safety or contribute to the predicted pilot shortage certainly are two questions that are open to continued debate.