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FAA Medical reforms effective May 1
January 10, 2017
Medical reforms effective May 1
The FAA has released a final rule on third class medical reform, though it
will be several months before pilots can fly under the new program that the
agency has named BasicMed.
Teams of AOPA experts are examining the Jan. 10 announcement, which at first
look appears to closely mirror the legislation signed into law on July 15,
2016. Pilots should note that BasicMed will not be effective until May 1, so
they cannot fly under the rule until then.
"BasicMed is the best thing to happen to general aviation in decades," said
AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker. "By putting medical decisions in the hands
of pilots and their doctors, instead of the FAA, these reforms will improve
safety while reducing burdensome and ineffective bureaucracy that has thwarted
participation in general aviation."
During the announcement, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, "I believe
BasicMed is a win for the general aviation community, and I'm happy that our
FAA team has brought it across the finish line."
In the near future, AOPA will be offering a free online medical course to let
pilots comply with the BasicMed rules. The course is just one part of a range
of AOPA's Fit to Fly resources for pilots and physicians created to help
people take full advantage of BasicMed. The Fit to Fly resources also include
an interactive tool that helps you determine if you qualify for BasicMed as
well as FAQs and other important information for you and your doctor.
AOPA will closely review the new rule and keep members informed about flying
"As with any regulation, the details are critical, and we'll be carefully
analyzing the rule and seeking clarification where needed," said Jim Coon,
AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. "We, along with our
supporters in Congress, worked diligently to bring these reforms to pilots,
and now we need to make sure they deliver the benefits lawmakers intended."
Under the reforms, pilots who have held a valid medical certificate any time
in the decade prior to July 15, 2016, may not need to take another FAA medical
exam. The 10-year lookback period applies to both regular and special issuance
medicals. Pilots whose most recent medical certificate was revoked, suspended,
withdrawn, or denied will need to obtain a new medical certificate before they
can operate under the reforms. Pilots who have never held an FAA medical
certificate, including student pilots, will need to go through the process one
The FAA explained that "what we're providing is an alternative path. Under
BasicMed, the FAA provides two avenues to meet the medical requirements."
After meeting the initial requirements to fly under the reforms, pilots will
need to visit any state-licensed physician at least once every four years and
take the free aeromedical factors online course every two years. The course
will be available for free on AOPA's website. A certificate of completion of
the course and the checklist from the physician must be kept in the pilot's
logbook; alternatively, pilots may carry a legible representation, such as a
smartphone image, of the document to be able to show to an FAA inspector if
asked. The checklist will be a four-page form that includes instructions for
you and your physician. No information from the checklist you complete along
with your physician is sent to the FAA.
"The course will put the focus on safety," said AOPA Pilot Information Center
Medical Certification Section Director Gary Crump. "We encourage members to
take notes as they work though the course so they're prepared to answer the
questions at the end."
To learn more about the new rule and access AOPA's Fit to Fly resources, visit
Medical Regulation Highlights
Aircraft Specifications - Up to 6 seats, up to 6,000 lbs (no limitations on
horsepower, number of engines, or gear type)
Flight Rules - Day or night, VFR or IFR
Passengers - Up to 5 passengers
Altitude Restriction - Up to 18,000 feet msl
Speed Limitation - 250 knots indicated airspeed
Pilot Limitation - Cannot operate for compensation or hire
Aeromedical Training - Free online course required every 2 years
Physician Visit - Every 4 years
Fit to Fly online resources:
Pilot resources for BasicMed
BasicMed frequently asked questions
Conditions requiring additional attention
Physician resources for treating pilots
Quiz: Can you fly under BasicMed?
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