What is FAA Medical Exam

What is the FAA Medical Exam – Overview

If you want to become an aviation pilot, you will need to pass the FAA medical exam. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots to pass this exam to legally exercise the privileges of their pilot certificates. There are many doubts and misconceptions regarding an FAA medical exam, which we plan to dispel through this article.

Let’s look at some of the most important information and details you need to know about an FAA medical exam.

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What is FAA medical exam

What is the FAA medical exam?

You don’t have to worry about failing the FAA medical exam if you are fit and healthy. 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. You can do this 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, you will need additional paperwork. So, 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 electronic form will be reviewed by your medical examiner and submitted to the FAA once the medical exam is over.

Once you have completed your registrations and forms, the medical examiner will check your identity and review information relating to your health history. The medical examiner will also inform you if any details may delay your 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

Age itself does not determine the class of medical exam you must undergo; rather, your flying privileges and aspirations dictate whether you need a first-, second-, or third-class medical certificate. Individuals over 40 have specific considerations for each class, particularly for first-class certificates. This exam involves checking your eyesight, including nearsightedness, peripheral vision, farsightedness, and color vision. 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:

  • Medications
  • 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 on whether you are seeking first-, second-, or third-class medical certificates. However, the overall exams for all three are quite similar. First-class medical certificate holders over 40 must undergo an ECG as part of their exam. Still, the frequency of the exams and ECG requirements depends on the specific regulations, which may require updates depending on the holder’s age and the type of piloting they engage in.

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.

While a history of substance abuse and legal issues may affect the evaluation, AMEs typically defer decisions on potentially disqualifying conditions to the FAA rather than outright deny them. Applicants have the opportunity to demonstrate recovery and compliance with FAA requirements. 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.

Most of the time, people with health issues can successfully acquire a special issuance medical certificate after completing the deferment process with the FAA. Sometimes, you may need to change medications to those 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. The FAA usually 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, waiting for the waiver process to be completed can be quite frustrating. However, the FAA usually lets you fly in the end.

See Also

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