There seems to be a lot of confusion about the FAA medical when someone is learning about what it takes to become a pilot. This article is intended to answer all your questions. Questions such as:
What is an FAA Medical
What type do I need
What do I need to pass one
How often do I need to get one
Where do I get one
How much does it cost
Let’s get started…
What is an FAA Medical?
Under the Federal Aviation Regulations, pilots are required to meet certain medical requirements. Depending on what type of pilot you are, you will need to pass a certain type of medical exam.
What type of FAA Medical do I need?
There are three types of medical certificates:
First Class – for airline pilots
Second Class – for pilots who get paid for flying, but not necessarily as an airline pilot
Third Class – for private pilots and recreational pilots
What do I need to pass an FAA medical?
The FAR’s (Federal Aviation Regulations) list the requirements for each type of Medical Certificate. You can find these on the FAA website as well.
Here is a summary of what you need depending on the type of medical you need:
NOTE: this is just a quick overview, you should read the full Federal Aviation Regulations, or FAR’s, for more detailed information.
Medical Requirements overview
Eye – With or without corrective lenses, distant Vision 20/20 (for First & Second Class), distant vision 20/40 (for Third Class), near vision 20/40
Ear, Nose, Throat, Equilibrium – demonstrate acceptable hearing, no disease that affects equilibrium
Mental – no personality disorders, psychosis, delusions, bipolar disorders, or substance abuse
Neurologic – no epilepsy, disturbance of consciousness, transient loss of control of nervous system, seizures
Cardiovascular – no heart attacks, heart disease, angina pectoris, or pacemakers
General – no diabetes, or anything else the examiner thinks will make you an unsafe pilot
So what happens if you are denied a medical certificate?
If you have reason to believe that your application should not have been denied, you can appeal. The process is lengthy and may take several months (as does anything with the FAA). FAR 67.409 talks about the appeal process.
What if you have reason to believe that you won’t pass an FAA medical? Are you doomed to be a ground dweller forever?
Not exactly. If you have never been denied an FAA medical certificate, you can become a Sport Pilot. The Sport Pilot Certificate allows you to fly small aircraft that are classified as LSA’s or Light Sport Aircraft. These airplanes have several restrictions, but for the most part, these are:
Cannot weigh more than 1,320 lbs (1,420 lbs for a seaplane)
Cannot have the ability to fly faster than 120 knots (about 139 mph)
Cannon carry more than one passenger
To find out more about LSA’s and Sport Pilot Certificates, visit the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) website – http://www.eaa.org.
Medically, you still have to be fit to fly, however, you only need a current driver’s license to prove this.
How often do I need to get an FAA Medical exam?
Because the rules and duration of FAA Medical certificates have become so complex, the FAA has come up with a table that makes it very easy to help you figure out how long your medical will be valid. The table is buried under FAR 61.23 (d). Just google this and you should find it easily enough.
Where do I get an FAA Medical?
To search for a nearby medical examiner, you can look for one on the FAA website – http://www.faa.gov.
However, since every AME (Aviation Medical Examiner) is different they have some latitude in determining whether you meet the requirements or not, be sure to ask some local pilots who they recommend.
How much does an FAA Medical cost?
Each medical examiner will set his/her own price for each type of medical certificate.
My experience has been that they cost in the range of $95 – $140.