Exam Overview

Apr 2014

Abbreviated Briefing:

To obtain Airman Medical Certification, pilot applicants must arrange and pass a flight physical. First apply online, then schedule a medical exam and meet standards. If there are issues or problems, then the applicant may need to get an additional medical workup.

  • Medical Application: Complete Items 1-20 (pilot portion) of the Form 8500-8, the FAA Application for Airman Medical Certification. These are the pilot's own statements about his/her medical history entered online through MedXPress. You must do this in advance of seeing the AME.
  • Medical Exam: After you electronically submit your application, you will need to schedule an examination with an FAA designated doctor, an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). Find an appropriate AME and schedule your flight physical within 60 days of entering data through MedXPress, or you'll have to repeat the application. Your AME will review and refine your portion and complete Items 21-64, (the AME exam portion).
  • Medical Standards: Legal medical requirements (CFR Part 67).
  • Medical Workup: Supplemental Guidelines and Disease Protocols for those pursuing FAA waivers if problems are found.


Guidance is compiled and interpreted by professional pilots and physicians at FlightPhysical.com from the 2014 AME Guide page 43, 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).

Airman Medical Exam: Techniques and Qualification Criteria

Insructions for AMEs on Items 21-64

Note: For 1st Portion, See Items 1-20, in Medical Application Section of FAA Form 8500-8

Note: Groupings are Approximate -- Organ System Gaps & Overlaps Always Exist

Focus on Medical Regulations by Organ System / Body Area

ITEMS 17b, 18d, 31-34, 50-54. Overview of Eye and Vision portions of History and Exam
ITEMS 42-43. Musculoskeletal
ITEMS 25-30, 49. Overview of Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) and Hearing Exam
ITEMS 18.b, 18.c, 18.g, 18.h, 36-37, 48, 55, 56, 58 Overview of Heart & Lung Items
ITEMS 21-24, 44, 60-64 Overview of Admin Items
ITEMS 38-39, 41, 57 Gastrointestinal & Genitourinary Items
ITEMS 46-47 Neurologic and Psychiatric Items
ITEMS 40, 45, 48, 59 Skin, Lymphatics, Miscellaneous


To grasp the complex FAA Aviation Medical Exam Process, we recommend that Flight Doctors (AMEs) and pilots envision the complex FAA flight physical in phases:

Medical Application

Items 1-20 on the application are applicant statements about their medical history. The pilot applicant will register for an online MedXPress account and review the Pilot's Bill of Rights. Once registered and logged in, he/she must answer questions about demographics. Be prepared to give detailed medical data from your personal medical history.

During this application phase, you can save your work periodically if you need to go retrieve medical records or check the doses of your medications. The application is saved for up to 30 days while you are working on it. Once submitted, the application stays on the FAA system for up to 60 days, then it will be deleted. You must see the AME prior to 60 days after final submission. As an applicant, you must agree to release information from the National Driver Register (history about DUI etc). These statements are collected from the pilot applicant during this application phase 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.

Medical Exam

This includes a formal validation and review of the first 20 items mentioned above (from the Medical Application) plus items 21-64, the typical assessments (height/weight/vision, etc) that are made in the doctor's office. The review 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.

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.

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.


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