Quick question. I understand you cannot get a Sport pilot license if you’ve been denied medical. Is a medical deferral considered a denial until it’s approved? Or in other words, can you still obtain a sport license while also in medical deferral?
See 14 CFR 61.23(c)(2)(ii). It says that if you are going to use a driver's license instead of a medical, you must have been found eligible for the issuance of at least a third-class airman medical certificate at the time of his or her most recent application (if the person has applied for a medical certificate);
If the application has been deferred, you have not been found eligible.
The FAA' Chief Counsel determination supporting Kris' statement is here. So even though you haven't been denied, the fact that you weren't found eligible puts the kibosh on Sport Pilot until you are found eligible for a medical certificate.
Folks who have any question about whether they'll be issued on the spot but are willing to accept Sport Pilot should be advised not to apply for a medical until they know they can be issued. This includes consultation with experts like the AOPA Medical Help folks or someone like Bruce Chien to see if Special Issuance is feasible given the condition preventing in-the-spot issuance. It's especially important for flight schools and CFI's to discuss this with prospective pilots before those folks commit to training or apply for a medical certificate.
Everyone - please take note of Ron's advice here about checking with an AME first before applying for a medical. I'm nearly two years into the process because I didn't do that and I'd be perfectly happy with a Sport certificate at this point just to be able to fly. I'm still waiting on the FAA's decision.
Everyone - please take note of Ron's advice here about checking with an AME first before applying for a medical.
Let me emphasize the importance of instructors and flight schools in this process. There is a certain reticence towards asking potential students about their medical situation – we don't want to scare them off or be seen as prying. But we do our clients a serious disservice by not discussing this with them very early in their training. We don't have to do a deep dive into their medical history, but we should provide them a list of problematic medical issues and advise them if that affects them, they should discuss it with an AME (another list we should give them early on) as soon as practical.
Thank you all who responded. Great info and I definitely appreciate the insight. To me, based on what everyone else has said, if a pilot candidate (not sure if that's the right term but you know what I mean) has even an inkling they may not be able to pass a medical (or know they will likely be deferred for a LOOONG time) it's better to just go the sport pilot route if they really just want to fly. The way I see it is you can still gain experience as a pilot, learn a ton and build hours as a sport pilot but still potentially work toward private pilot at a later date if said candidate has a more favorable medical outlook. Thanks again all!