FAA Medical Exam Guide

When it comes to flying, safety is the primary concern. Whether you’re a pilot or a passenger, you want to ensure that the person in control of the aircraft is physically and mentally capable of handling the responsibilities that come with flying. This is where the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) steps in, with its mandatory FAA Medical examination for pilots.

The FAA Medical examination is a crucial part of ensuring the safety of everyone involved in aviation. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to better understand this vital process.

What is the FAA Medical Exam?

The FAA Medical Exam is a health assessment that evaluates a pilot’s physical and mental health to ensure they are fit to fly. This examination is conducted by an FAA-certified Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) and must be passed by anyone who wishes to fly an aircraft.

The FAA Medical Exam covers a wide range of health issues. It assesses the pilot’s vision, hearing, mental health, cardiovascular health, and neurological health, among other things. Furthermore, the FAA Medical Exam also considers the pilot’s overall health history, including any surgeries or illnesses they may have had.

Moreover, the FAA Medical Exam is not a one-time requirement. Pilots need to renew their medical certificates periodically to keep their pilot license valid. The frequency of these renewals depends on the class of the medical certificate and the age of the pilot.

Who Requires Medical Certifications Among Pilots?

Every pilot, regardless of the type of aircraft they fly, needs an FAA Medical Certificate. This includes private pilots, commercial pilots, flight instructors, and airline transport pilots.

Private pilots generally need to renew their medical certificates every five years if they are under 40 and every two years if they are 40 or older. Commercial pilots, on the other hand, need to renew their medical certificates every year. Airline transport pilots must renew their certificates every six months.

However, there are some exceptions to these rules. For example, pilots who only fly recreationally and pilots who fly light-sport aircraft may not need to obtain or renew an FAA Medical Certificate.

The Procedures for Obtaining an FAA Medical Certification

Obtaining an FAA Medical Certificate involves several steps. The first step is to apply online via the FAA’s MedXPress system. After completing the application, the pilot will receive an application identification number.

The next step is to schedule an appointment with an FAA-certified AME. During this appointment, the pilot will undergo a comprehensive medical exam. The examiner will review the pilot’s medical history, conduct a physical exam, and perform various tests.

If the pilot passes the exam, the AME will issue them an FAA Medical Certificate. If the pilot is found to have a disqualifying medical condition, the AME may deny the application or defer it to the FAA for further review.

The FAA Medical Examiner

The FAA Medical Examiner is a crucial part of the FAA Medical exam process. These are medical professionals who have been certified by the FAA to conduct the medical exams required for pilots to receive their FAA Medical Certificates.

FAA Medical Examiners come from various medical backgrounds, including family medicine, internal medicine, and aviation medicine. They are required to undergo thorough training and certification processes to ensure they are equipped to assess pilots’ physical and mental health accurately.

The role of an FAA Medical Examiner extends beyond simply conducting the medical exam. They are also responsible for advising pilots on health-related issues that could affect their ability to fly safely. This includes providing guidance on managing chronic conditions, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and dealing with stress.

Three Classes of Medical Exams

The FAA Medical Exam comes in three classes – Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. Each class is associated with a different level of flying privileges and has different medical standards.

Class 1: is for airline transport pilots – those who fly commercial airliners. This is the most stringent medical exam, and pilots must pass it annually or every six months, depending on their age.

Class 2: is for commercial pilots and flight instructors. These pilots can fly for hire or compensation. They need to pass the Class 2 medical exam every year.

Class 3: is for private and recreational pilots. These pilots cannot fly for hire or compensation. They need to pass the Class 3 medical exam every five years if they are under 40 and every two years if they are 40 or older.

What Happens If Your Application Is Rejected or Deferred?

If you are denied or deferred during your FAA Medical Exam, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your flying career. The FAA has a process in place for pilots who are initially denied or deferred to appeal the decision.

If your application is deferred, it means the FAA needs more information before making a decision. In this case, the FAA will send you a letter outlining what additional information they need. You will have the opportunity to provide this information and have your case reviewed again.

If your application is denied, you can appeal the decision to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB will review your case and make a final decision. If the NTSB upholds the denial, you can still apply for a special issuance medical certificate, which allows pilots with certain disqualifying conditions to fly under specific conditions.

How Do I Find an Aviation Medical Examiner?

Finding an Aviation Medical Examiner is a crucial step in obtaining your FAA Medical Certificate. The FAA website has a search feature that allows you to find AMEs in your area. You can search by city, state, or zip code.

Once you have located an AME, it’s a good idea to call and discuss your medical history before scheduling an appointment. The AME can provide you with information about what to expect during the exam and what documents you need to bring.

Remember, it’s important to choose an AME who is familiar with the specific requirements of the FAA Medical Exam and who you feel comfortable discussing your health with.

How Much Does It Cost

The cost of an FAA Medical Exam can vary depending on the class of the exam and the location of the AME. On average, the cost ranges from $75 to $200.

The cost typically includes the examination and the issuance of the medical certificate. However, if additional tests or consultations are required, these may incur additional charges.

It’s important to note that the FAA does not set the fees for the medical exam. Each AME sets their own fees, so it’s a good idea to ask about the cost when scheduling your appointment.

Disqualifying Conditions

The FAA has outlined several disqualifying conditions that can prevent a pilot from obtaining an FAA Medical Certificate. These include certain cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders, mental health conditions, and substance abuse issues, among others.

However, having a disqualifying condition doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t fly. The FAA offers a Special Issuance process that allows pilots with certain disqualifying conditions to obtain a medical certificate under specific conditions.

It’s important to discuss any potential disqualifying conditions with your AME. They can provide advice on how to manage these conditions and guide you through the Special Issuance process if necessary.

Do They Test for Drugs

Yes, the FAA Medical Exam does include a drug test. The FAA has a zero-tolerance policy for drug use among pilots. Pilots are tested for a range of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine.

If a pilot tests positive for any of these drugs, their medical certificate application will be denied, and they may face additional penalties, including the suspension or revocation of their pilot’s license.

It’s important to note that even if a pilot is using a drug legally (such as medical marijuana), it can still disqualify them from obtaining an FAA Medical Certificate. The FAA considers any drug use that could impair a pilot’s ability to fly safely to be disqualifying.

What’s the Next Course of Action?

If you’re considering a career in aviation or are already a certified pilot, understanding the FAA Medical Exam process is crucial. Regular health assessments ensure that you are fit to fly and can safely handle the responsibilities that come with piloting an aircraft.

If you’re preparing for your first FAA Medical Exam or need to renew your certificate, start by finding an FAA-certified AME in your area. Discuss any health concerns with them and gather all the necessary documentation for your appointment.

Remember, maintaining good health is not just about passing the FAA Medical Exam. It’s about ensuring your safety and the safety of your passengers. So, make health a priority in your life and your flying career.


The FAA Medical Exam is a crucial part of ensuring the safety and integrity of the aviation industry. Every pilot, from private to commercial, must go through this process to validate their fitness to fly. While the process may seem daunting, understanding the steps and requirements can make it less intimidating. Remember, the ultimate goal of the FAA Medical Exam is to ensure that you are healthy and capable to take on the skies. So, don’t view it as a hurdle but as a confirmation of your readiness to embrace the boundless skies.

Ready to take flight? Ensure your safety and that of your passengers with a comprehensive understanding of the FAA Medical Exam. From the necessary steps to finding an FAA-certified Aviation Medical Examiner (AME), our guide equips you with vital insights for a smooth certification process. Prioritize your health and your flying career. Get started today with Florida Flyers Flight Academy!

Contact us or call Florida Flyers Team at +1 904 209 3510 to become a certified successful pilot.