What You Need to Know About Aviation Medicals

You have now found the school you would like to attend, completed an introductory demonstration flight, and have made the decision to learn how to fly but what else do you need to become a pilot?

If you are considering becoming a pilot, you will need to schedule a visit with an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) to obtain an Airman Medical Certificate. An AME is a doctor who has become designated by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Aerospace Medicine to perform exams and issue medical certificates to those who are pursuing flight training and those who work in the industry as pilots. A medical certificate is a requirement for all pilots who act as pilot in command (PIC) of an aircraft or as a pilot crewmember. As a new student pilot, you will need to complete this process before you can solo an aircraft.

What is a Medical Certificate? An Airmen Medical Certificate is a certificate that is issued to you that ensures that you are fit to fly and that you do not have any pre-existing or underlying medical conditions or take any medications that could disqualify you from becoming a pilot. During a medical exam, the physician will review your physical health, vision, hearing, current or past medication history, as well as any health issues you have had as well as check in on your cardiovascular and mental health.

You will need to find an AME in your area and make an appointment. You can visit the AME locator. You need to put in your city and state, and it will generate a list of AMEs near you. Before you call, you will need to determine what class medical certificate you need to obtain based on the certificates/ratings you plan to achieve.

First Class Medical Certificate
This class medical certificate is required for pilots who exercise Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) privileges.

Under 40 
Valid for 12 calendar months, then 3rd class privileges up to 60 calendar months

Over 40
Valid for 6 months, then commercial pilot privileges up to 12 calendar months, then 3rd class privileges up to 24 calendar months

During the first-class medical appointment after age 35 and yearly after age 40, you will also complete an electrocardiogram (ECG) to ensure there are no abnormalities.

Second Class Medical Certificate
This class is geared towards commercial pilots and those who plan to fly for hire outside of 121 airline operations but do plan on flying for hire as a commercial pilot.

Under 40
Valid for 12 calendar months, then 3rd class privileges up to 60 calendar months

Over 40
Valid for 12 calendar months, then 3rd class privileges up to 24 calendar months

Third Class Medical Certificate
This class medical certificate is geared toward pilots who desire to fly for fun or recreational and do not have intentions of becoming an airline pilot or commercial pilot but aspire to fly as a hobby. Students who want to pursue the private pilot certificate, and/or an instrument rating will select a third-class medical certificate in most cases.

Under 40
Valid for 60 calendar months

Over 40
Valid for 24 calendar months

If you are planning on obtaining your Commercial Pilot Certificate, or Certified Flight Instructor Rating, our recommendation is to try and obtain your first class or second class as soon as possible to ensure that you can qualify in the future before investing the time and money on aviation training courses.

Now that you have decided what class medical certificate you will need, you will create an account with MedXpress. Medxpress is an online application where you will enter in all your health data, and it will be made available to the AME to review before your appointment. The MedXPress application link is located https://medxpress.faa.gov. After completing the MedXpress application, you will bring the confirmation number with you to the appointment. The AME will need this to access your account through their system to complete the exam.

Other Resources 
Have a question on how to decipher the medical certification process due to a previous or existing health condition? There are resources available to help you. Pilot Medical Solutions located near Oklahoma City can provide FAA medical support and help students obtain their medical certificate and advise you on how you should approach the process as their operation is overlooked by a group of former FAA physicians who are board certified in aviation medicine. Pilot Medical Solutions will work directly with your AME and the FAA Standards office in Oklahoma on your behalf. Pilot Medical Solutions offers discounted rates for student pilots and a free consultations. You can receive pre-certification evaluations and practice for your FAA application on their website. You can contact Pilot Medical Solutions at info@leftseat.com or at 1-800-699-4457 if you would like to discuss your medical condition and the certification process.

To summarize, you will find an examiner, make an appointment, and specify which class medical certificate you need, fill out the MedXpress application, take your confirmation number with you, and complete your exam.

If you are worried about a previous health condition, keep in mind that there are rapid developments in the world of medicine and technology, conditions that were once disqualifying are often changing. If you have a dream of becoming a pilot, it is a good time to begin researching. You can start by reading the Airmen Medical Standards and Certification Procedures.

Whether you are pursuing recreational flight training or professional pilot program training, HAA is here to assist you with the admissions process and help you achieve your dreams of becoming a professional pilot. If you would like to learn more about joining Hillsboro Aero Academy, contact our admissions team at info@flyhaa.com or at 503-726-3000.