At the July EAA meeting a newly minted AME stopped by and talked to us about pilot medicals. There seems to be a lot of confusion about medicals and BasicMed so I put together this post.
You can find the regulation for Class I, II, and III medicals in § 61.23 Medical certificates: Requirement and duration.. The rules for operating aircraft are under § 61.113(i) and the requirements of obtaining a BasicMed medical are found in PART 68 – REQUIREMENTS FOR OPERATING CERTAIN SMALL AIRCRAFT WITHOUT A MEDICAL CERTIFICATE
Basic Med is an option for most of us. If at any point after July 14, 2006, you have held a medical certificate and it has not been revoked you are eligible for Basic Med. That is true even if you had a medical with a special issuance that has expired. For us older guys the best reason to fly under Basic Med is because it lasts 4 years instead of the 2 years for Third Class. If you are under 40, a Third Class lasts 5 years so it’s a better option. You do need to carry a valid US driver’s license but since most of us use that as the photo ID requirement, we already have that in our possession. You need to comply with any restrictions on your Driver’s license, e.g. corrective lenses, prosthetic aids required, daylight driving only, etc. Details are found on the FAA website and AC 68-1 Alternative Pilot Physical Examination and Education Requirements
You also need to take an online course after you have seen a doctor and they have filled out the form. § 68.3 Medical education course requirements.
You can take any practical test including Commercial and First Class with Basic Med. You can fly to Mexico and the Bahamas, but not Canada. Practically any GA aircraft that we fly can be flown under Basic Med as long as the aircraft is authorized to carry not more than 6 occupants, has a maximum takeoff weight of not more than 6,000 pounds, you do not fly over 18,000′ MSL, and do not exceed 250 knots.
That leaves out Pilatus, TBM, and the Honda Jet but the Cirrus Vision Jet has a maximum takeoff weight of 6,000 lbs so you can fly it. If you happen to fly one and want to bring it to one of our meetings, let me know.
The most common reasons that I’ve seen for recommending Basic Med for people who have issues that might require costly testing and paperwork if getting a Third Class medical are: taking anti-depressants while grieving the loss of a loved one; undergoing treatment for drug or alcohol addiction but have never gotten a DUI; taking medicines for ADD; and you‘ve started using a C-PAP or B-BAP machine for sleep apnea.
Other examples of when you might want to avoid the hassle of a Third Class medical include, diabetes mellitus controlled with oral medications; you were issued a misdemeanor citation for a loud party or even more serious offenses; are on a whole raft of medications but your doctor says you are fine to drive; you are using a drug on the do not issue list.
There are some issues that make you ineligible to act as PIC even if you have a current medical. They are listed at Mental standards for a third-class airman medical certificate and
If you are taking medications on the AME do not issue list, and in consultation with your doctor you think you are safe to fly, then you can fly under Basic Med. However, you may want to carefully consider whether you are truly safe to fly when taking these medications and you need a special issuance if any of these are prescribed for one of the conditions under § 61.23(c)(3).
A comprehensive list of medications and their FAA status as Allowed/Not Allowed/Allowed with restrictions/Requires special issuance is found at Medication Database. This is not an official FAA database but it was developed by physicians who are experts in providing pilot physicals for the airlines. It can be used to judge whether a particular medication will prevent issuance of an FAA medical.
If you think you might be denied, do not give the AME your MedExpress number but ask for a consult instead. If there is nothing in your history that they’d send off to Oklahoma City or that they know will result in a deferral and special issuance, then you are good to go.
(1) Knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make the person unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation; or
(2) Is taking medication or receiving other treatment for a medical condition that results in the person being unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation.
You need to undergo the FAA process for special issuance if you newly develop (or have never held a special issuance for) any of the following medical conditions since the last time you received a FAA medical certificate:
(i) Personality disorder severe enough to have repeatedly manifested
itself by overt acts
(iii) Bipolar disorder
(iv) Substance dependence within the previous 2 years
(ii) Disturbance of consciousness without satisfactory medical
explanation of the cause
(iii) A transient loss of control of nervous system functions without
satisfactory medical explanation of the cause
(i) Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
(ii) Coronary heart disease that has required treatment
(iii) Cardiac valve replacement
(iv) Heart replacement
According to AOPA pilots flying under BasicMed will be able to travel to Mexico in their aircraft under a policy letter signed by Mexico’s Directorate General of Civil Aeronautics.
And AOPA has confirmed that the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority announced that pilots can fly under the new FAA medical certification known as BasicMed.
BasicMed is not yet approved for flights in Canada.