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FAA Makes Medical Certificates Compulsory For Hot-air Balloon Pilots

The Federal Aviation Administration or FAA has adopted a final rule on Wednesday, which makes it compulsory for commercial hot-air balloon pilots to hold medical certificates when flying paying passengers. The rule makes compulsory a second-class medical certificate, the same standard required for other commercial pilots.

"Passengers can now rest assured that commercial balloon pilots must meet the same strict medical requirements as other commercial pilots," said acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen.

Previously, commercial balloon pilots were exempt from the medical requirement. In the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, Congress directed the FAA to revise the medical certification standards for commercial balloon pilots. The rule also addresses a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that the FAA remove the exemption.

The FAA in recent years has taken many steps to increase the safety of hot-air-balloon tourism by working with the Balloon Federation of America (BFA) on an accreditation program. The program includes voluntary standards for pilots and operators and offers multiple tiers of BFA safety accreditation.

The FAA had earlier published a proposed rule in November last year and reviewed approximately 200 public comments before issuing the final rule.

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