What is FAA Medical Exam – Overview
If you want to become an aviation pilot, then you will need to pass the FAA medical exam. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) requires pilots to pass this exam if they want to legally utilize their pilot certificates’ privileges. There is a lot of doubt and misconceptions regarding an FAA medical exam, which we plan to dispel through this article.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important information and details you need to know about an FAA medical exam.
Do a Bit of Research
If you are fit and healthy, you don’t have to worry about failing the FAA medical exam. If you believe a minor illness or disorder may prevent you from passing this mandatory exam, you should check if the problem is listed as a disqualifier.
Additionally, there are circumstances where you may be required to get a special medical certificate. This can be done by sharing your health information with a doctor.
If you are concerned about any specific underlying medical condition, you should do some research before appearing for your medical exam appointment. You can check the FAA’s extensive medical exam guidelines at https://www.faa.gov/ame_guide for more details.
Besides this website, you can also find more detailed information on this guideline at several other online sources.
If you need to undergo a special issuance medical exam, then you will definitely need additional paperwork. So, make sure to prepare the necessary documents beforehand and send these to the FAA once your medical exam is complete.
What Does the Examiner Do?
Before an applicant shows up for the scheduled appointment, an FAA medical examiner will make you register for an account with the FAA’s MedXPress system. This is an electronic form that will get reviewed by your medical examiner and submitted to the FAA once the medical exam is over.
The medical examiner will check your identity once you have completed your registrations and forms, besides reviewing information relating to your health history. The medical examiner will also inform you if any details may delay you from receiving your medical certificate.
The intensity of the medical exam will usually depend on the specific type of aviation medical certification you are applying for. Third-class medical exams are the least intrusive, while first-class medical exams are extensive and more in-depth.
Types of FAA Medical Exams
If you are over 40 years old, you may have to undergo the basic (class III) medical exam. This exam involves checking your eyesight, including nearsightedness, peripheral vision, farsightedness, and color vision. Additionally, the medical examiner will also perform a hearing test to check if you can hear at the most basic level.
Before conducting the general physical check-up, the medical examiner will check the following:
- Health issues
- Previous doctor visits
- Surgeries (if any in the past)
The medical examiner will also recommend getting a urinalysis to test for diseases, blood, and proteins in the urine. You should also expect to have your blood pressure checked and answer questions relating to mental health.
The vision and hearing tests are standard tests required for FAA medical certificates and vary slightly, depending if you are seeking first, second, or third-class medical certificates. However, the overall exams for all three are quite similar. First-class medical exams are performed more frequently and require the applicant to have an ECG done every year, if the applicant is over 40 years old.
Once the medical examination is completed, the medical examiner can approve your application, deny it, or defer it to the FAA for additional processing.
What to do if your FAA Medical Exam result is denied or deferred?
There’s no reason to panic if the medical examiner denies or defers your application to the FAA. Just because your application was deferred or denied does not mean you will be grounded forever.
To remedy this, you should first know that Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs) rarely deny a certificate. Mostly, they are encouraged to pass it to the FAA for review. However, you can appeal this decision with the FAA if it is denied even then.
Still, the AME may deny your application if you have a history of extreme substance abuse and multiple arrests. But, if you can prove that you have been rehabilitated completely and have been sober for the last 24 months, then your appeal can be successful and you may pass the FAA medical exam.
The majority of the time, people with health issues can successfully acquire a special issuance medical certificate after completing the deferment process with the FAA. At times, you may need to change medications to those that are acceptable for operating a flight.
Additionally, you may need to wait until your symptoms disappear, for a certain period of time, before having your application reviewed. Usually, the FAA approves medical applications without too many questions.
For instance, the FAA approves people with hyperthyroidism even though they are normally deferred to the FAA by the AME.
For many people, the aviation medical exam is easy to pass, but for others, it can be quite frustrating to wait for the waiver process to get completed. However, the FAA will usually let you fly in the end.