FAA Pilot Medical Certification

Instructions for Pilots and AMEs

Jan 2015

Abbreviated Briefing:

To obtain Airman Medical Certification, pilot applicants must arrange and pass a flight physical. This 2 step proccess begins with an online application (MedXPress), then the airman must schedule a medical exam and meet standards. If there are issues or problems, additional medical workup may be needed.

  • Medical Application: Complete the first section of Form 8500-8, the FAA Application for Airman Medical Certification. This includes items 1-20 of the medical certification application (the pilot portion) . These entries 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 electronically submiting 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 else you'll have to repeat the online application from scratch. Your AME will review and refine your portion and complete the second section of Form 8500-8, 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, 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).

Whether it's your 1st or 50th Aeromedical Exam, most pilots have some trepidation about the medical evaluation. Mild Checkride-itis and FlightPhysical-itis are typical and should not be a problem. Preparation and relaxation is key. Flight Instructors help you fully prepare for your checkride, but to grasp the complex FAA Aviation Medical Exam Process, we also recommend that pilots prepare a little for the flight physical with some basic understanding. It is helpful to envision the complex FAA Aviation Medical Examination in phases:

Medical Application

Items 1-20 on the application are the applicant's own statements about their medical history. The pilot must first 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 and then provide detailed medical information from their unique medical history.

During this online application phase, you can save your work periodically if you need to go retrieve medical records or check the doses of your medications, etc. The application is saved as drafts for up to 30 days while you are working on it. Once finished, pilots submit the final application, and it stays on file with the FAA for up to 60 days, then it will be deleted. The applicant must then see the AME within this 2 month window, or else they will need to start again from scratch.

Note: The 60 day time window to see an AME starts when you click the final MedXPress . Prior to your final submit, as you periodically click the button, interim saves are kept as un-submitted drafts on the FAA servers for up to 30 days.

As an applicant, this is where you must agree to release your information from the National Driver Register (history about DUI etc). These permission statements are securely collected from every pilot applicant during the application phase in advance of the actual AME appointment. Information is gathered through a federal web site called MedXPress. FlightPhysical.com maintains a practice page where you can learn 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/stethoscope, etc) that are made in the doctor's office. This portion includes a discussion of the medical history you entered through MedXPress, a physical exam and a final review process. At the end, the AME certifies and uploads the Form 8500-8 to the FAA on the pilot's behalf. The AME may deny, defer or submit your certificate, and the FAA reserves the right to question AME decisions and data, so they might also require additional information later, but at this point you have reached the limit of what you can do to hoenstly influence the aeromedical certification decision. If all goes well, the applicant leaves the AME office with a fresh Airman Medical Certificate in hand and is medically legal to fly the same day. Other possible outcomes...

Medical Standards

These are the 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. In general, class 1 standards are for airline pilots, class 2 for commercial pilots, and class 3 for private pilots. More...

Medical Workup

If you don't think you immediately qualify--don't despair. The FlightPhysical.com workup section contains descriptions of FAA guidelines, timelines, disease protocols and follow up studies that might be needed 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 time or money. All of us humans have unique defects, irregularities and/or warning flags that will appear during the initial application, history or exam. If concerned, start by reviewing the legal standards, and if you a concerned about a particular problem, do some focused research in our workup section if you are worried that you are not medically perfect. Understand what is needed to gain or regain medical certification if a problem is suspected or develops during your aviation career.

Example: you think you may have glaucoma or any elevated ocular pressure, you may choose to learn about your specific certification options. The FlightPhysical.com workup section is the area 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 then acquired appropriate medical 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.