Make amateur radio licenses valid for life as we did with commercial operator licenses.
Issue NPRM to amend Part 97 to make amateur radio licenses valid for the operator's lifetime unless suspended or revoked. Make rule effective retroactive by two years to include in-grace-period expired licensees (who by rule would be renewed/reinstated).
Ted Schober commented
Good Idea. Club licenses could be set to expire with the trustee, with a two year grace period to assign a new trustee, after a trustee resigns or dies, the club license would be expired, and not usable for operation until modified.
This would cut down on FCC paperwork and folks forgetting to renew.
Richard Weil commented
I agree this would remove a burden to both the public and the Commission, but there is the issue of station licenses. Currently they are issued and renewed with amateur operator licenses. To separate them out and require periodic renewals rather defeats the purpose of this proposal.
Maybe 2 classes of station licenses should exist: one that, like now, is with the (lifetime) operator license and automatically expires when the licensee does. The other is a club/other special station license that every decade or two must be renewed by a licensed operator serving as trustee.
The only downside to this could be indefinitely tying up the callsigns of deceased operators. Like the FAA, notification of dead licensees could be requested, but whether that would consistently be done by next of kin is questionable. Perhaps every 20 years the FCC could attempt to reach all licensees to determine who is still alive. Not a perfect solution, though. Maybe callsigns could be automatically recycled after 75 years, unless it is known that the applicant is either alive or deceased.
So maybe separating out the licenses makes more sense--lifetime operator and renewable station. Or is there a reason even to have a separate station license? Maybe the Commission could amend the rules to just issue every successful applicant a lifetime license with a personal callsign, and then (except for clubs) stop issuing station licenses entirely.