Are you seeking your first FAA medical certificate? Do you have a medical condition that might make it difficult to get certified? If the answer is yes to either question, this article is for you.
As Dr. Northrup notes in this issue’s Aeromedical Advisory department, you can fly certain aircraft without holding a medical certificate. These include ultralights, gliders, and balloons. (Note, however, that Congress has mandated that the FAA require commercial balloon operators in commercial aviation maintain a Class II medical certificate.) To fly lightsport aircraft (LSA), you only need a driver’s license. For other aircraft, you need an FAA medical certificate. However for BasicMed operations, the airman must have had a FAA Medical Certificate valid for at least one day after July 14, 2006 that wasn’t subsequently denied, suspended, revoked, or withdrawn (bit.ly/BasicMedCert).
How To Find an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME)
Most pilots seeking an AME will use their instructor/flight school, pilot acquaintances, advocacy groups, or search online. Go to bit.ly/FindAnAME and select AME under the “Designee Types” tab. The FAA authorizes all AMEs to issue Class II and III FAA medical certificates, but Class I medical certificates must be completed by a senior AME. For any class of medical certificate, the AME will review the history and answers you provide on your MedXPress 8500-8 application, your lifetime medical history, including medications, surgery, hospitalizations, and medical conditions (even if now resolved). Review the AME Guide for help (bit.ly/AMEGuide).
Having all your reports in order (complete, legible, and without duplication) is an excellent start. We also recommend contacting your AME before your appointment to ensure you bring all the necessary documentation. Your AME might even ask you to forward the information prior to your appointment. Note that your AME must transmit the examination to the FAA within 14 days, so it’s best to obtain all needed medical records before your appointment.
Typically, you will walk out of your AME’s office with a medical certificate in hand. Delays occur when additional information or evaluations are necessary. Sometimes your AME simply needs existing documentation for a CACI (Conditions AMEs Can Issue) condition, for example. If there is a disqualifying or potentially disqualifying condition, a further evaluation might be necessary before the FAA can authorize a medical certificate. If you adequately mitigate the risk from the disqualifying condition, the FAA can issue a special issuance (SI) for conditions that can progress or a statement of demonstrated ability (SODA) for static conditions. For color vision deficiency, we can issue a letter of evidence if you pass appropriate alternate testing.
The fee for the examination varies based on the region, the examiner, and the class of medical you are seeking. The FAA does not determine the fee. If your case is complicated, such as a CACI, SODA, or SI, there may be an additional charge.
As a reminder, there are ten conditions for which an SI is required, even under BasicMed. This is generally a one-time requirement; however, should the condition change after the issuance of the SI, a new SI might be required. You can find more information at bit.ly/BasicMedFAQs (PDF).
For example, let’s say a pilot had a heart attack treated with a stent and was later granted a SI. A new stent, bypass surgery, or another heart attack would require the pilot to obtain a new SI to continue under BasicMed.
The FAA’s goal is to authorize as many applicants as possible, and we approve almost 99% of all applicants. Of those applicants that we denied, 95% did not provide the requested information. If you have any questions, please reach out to your AME. You can also contact your FAA Regional Flight Surgeon’s office at (bit.ly/MedCertContacts).
We hope this information will help facilitate your medical certification experience.