Overview of FAA Airman Certification Process

Items 1-64: How Pilots are Medically Certified

Apr 2014

Abbreviated Briefing:


Guidance is compiled and interpreted by professional pilots and physicians at FlightPhysical.com from the 2014 AME Guide pages 1-332, FAA and FDA web data (www.FAA.gov & www.FDA.gov), instructions specified in the Aeronautical Information Manual, Federal Air Surgeon Bulletins from 1999-2015, and 14 CFR Part 61 and Part 67 (the FARs).

To understand the Aviation Medical Exam Proces, it is best broken into components:

  1. Medical Application: These are items 1-20 on the application. The pilot applicant must answer questions about demographics, and detailed medical data from his/her personal medical history. During this phase, the applicant also agrees to release information from the National Driver Register (history about DUI etc). These statements must be submitted by the pilot applicant in advance of the actual AME appointment. Information is collected through a federal web application called MedXpress. FlightPhysical.com maintains a practice page where you can see information about the questions in advance.
  2. Medical Exam: These are items 21-64 and this part happens in the AME office. This portion includes the review of the medical history entered through MedXPress, a physical exam and final review process.
  3. Medical Standards: Federal Statutes (CFR Part 67) that specify the legal medical standards that pilots must meet or exceed to be eligible for various classes (1, 2 or 3) of FAA airman medical certification.
  4. Medical Workup: If you don't think you immediately qualify--don't despair. This section contains FAA guidelines, timelines, disease protocols and follow up studies that might be arranged if a motivated applicant chooses to pursue an FAA waiver despite problems or medical defects. Some of these workups are expensive and unrealistic, so be sure to discuss the feasibility of pursuing a waiver with your AME before spending a lot of time or money. Many of us have various defects, irregularities or warning flags that appear during the initial application or history, so this section if for those of us who aren't medically perfect. Understand what is needed to gain or regain medical certification after a problem develops.
    For example, if you are found to have a color vision defect, you may choose to pursue restricted certification anyway...this is the section where you can get a glimpse of what might be required. Remember, not everyone can safely fly, but today there are deaf pilots, amputee pilots and thousands of other aviators who are legally flying because they were able to prove their capabilities and acquire certification despite initial problems.

Our staff of pilots and AMEs is dedicated to helping pilots and doctors understand the complex FAA medical application, physical examination and medical workup required for Airman Medical Certification.

Per the FAA's AME Guide, the AME must personally conduct the physical examination. THE FAA's AME Guide provides guidance for completion of Items 21-58 of the Application for Airman Medical Certificate or Airman Medical and Student Pilot Certificate, FAA Form 8500-8.

The AME must carefully read the applicant's history page of FAA Form 8500-8 (Items 1-20) which should have been submitted through MedXPress. before conducting the physical examination and completing the Report of Medical Examination. The history helps focus the exam and alerts the Examiner to possible pathological findings.

The Examiner must note in Item 60 (Examiner Comments) of the FAA Form 8500-8 any condition found in the course of the examination. The Examiner must list the facts, such as dates, frequency, and severity of occurrence.

When a question arises, the Federal Air Surgeon encourages AMEs first to check the AME Guide and other FAA informational documents. If the question remains unresolved, the Examiner should seek advice from a RFS or the Manager of the AMCD.

This page discussed the FAA Medical Exam section of the Fight Physical Examination required of pilots.

Reminder: use FlightPhysical.com to familiarize yourself with aviation medical regulations and guidelines, but always discuss your specific situation with one or more AMEs before dedicating resources toward expensive clinical workups. Find an AME now