FAA Medical Certificate Process and Guidance
This information will outline the process of acquiring an FAA medical certificate, as well as many considerations for you to think about along the way. Please read through this information entirely and seek appropriate guidance if you need clarification. Start on this process early, so you have your medical certificate to submit with your application.
What is an FAA medical certificate?
An FAA medical certificate is a medical certification required for almost all pilots to be able to fly an aircraft. FAA medicals are issued in 3 classes (1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class), and are valid for different types of piloting activities. You will need to fill out an application for the medical, and then have a physical examination by an FAA approved Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).
Which Class of medical do I need?
WMU strongly recommends that you acquire a 1st class medical certificate. This is the certificate that most professional pilots are required to have. If you happen to have a medical condition that is disqualifying from obtaining a 1st class medical, you want to know about it now rather than after you have spent a lot of time, effort, and finances on flight training. The minimum acceptable medical for flight training at WMU is a 2nd class due to our FAA approved flight school status. A 3rd class medical certificate is not acceptable for flight training at WMU, however a 1st or 2nd class medical that has lapsed into 3rd class privileges is still acceptable as long as it is not expired.
Who can give FAA medical examinations?
Only physicians specifically approved by the FAA can give FAA medical examinations and issue medical certificates. Your family doctor most likely does not qualify. Make sure to schedule an appointment with a FAA approved physician.
How do I find an approved physician?
There are numerous FAA approved physicians around the country, and the FAA has setup a search engine for you to find the ones in your area. This search engine is available at www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator. Make sure to check that the examiner can give the class of exam you desire. Not all examiners can issue 1st class medicals. If you are having difficulty getting a timely appointment, check the surrounding area. Some examiners have better availability than others.
Tips and Considerations about the Medical process
The application for a FAA medical certificate is web based as is available at https://medxpress.faa.gov/. Detailed information on how to use the website, including seeing what questions are asked, is available in the MedXPress User Guide located at https://medxpress.faa.gov/medxpress/Content/Docs/MedXPressUsersGuide.pdf.
The application asks numerous questions about medications and medical conditions that are potentially disqualifying. For example, some medications are FAA approved as safe for flying, and some are not. If you take regular medication, it may be as simple as switching you from a non-approved medication to an approved one for treatment of the same condition. This switch is often much easier if it is done before you apply for a medical rather than after you submit the application. Once you submit the application, it must go to the FAA to determine course of action, and it is out of the control of the local AME. If you have any concerns about the questions on the application, contact your AME prior to submitting. Never falsify information on a FAA medical application, but if you have concerns, you should consult a medical examiner to discuss the best course of action prior to submitting an application. The College of Aviation can refer you to a physician for counseling if you desire.
The following is a list of common diagnosis/disorders which could present difficulties in aeromedical certification. This list was provided by Dr. Gregory Pinnell, M.D. (one of our local aviation medical examiners) who has offered his assistance should you need guidance though the medical process.
- Any history of cardiac problem or surgery
- Any history of seizure after infancy or head injury/loss of consciousness.
- Any history of any psychological /psychiatric disorder regardless of whether medications are used or not.
- Any endocrine disorder (diabetes, hypothyroidism, etc.)
- Any history of substance abuse/alcohol abuse
- Any orthopedic disorder requiring use of prosthesis or use of pain medication.
- Any history of color vision deficiency.
Dr. Pinnell is a Senior AME and is willing to help guide you through the medical application process. He also conducts aviation medical exams locally in Battle Creek. His contact information is as follows:
Gregory A. Pinnell, M.D.
11279 Sarle Rd.
Saginaw MI 48623
Web site: www.airdocs.net
Go to https://medxpress.faa.gov/ to apply for an FAA medical certificate. You will need to request an account using the link on that page. Make sure to write down your login and password information and keep it in a safe place. You will need to use this system again in the future to apply for future medicals. Make sure to follow the directions carefully when filling out the application.
Use your full legal name when applying, not abbreviated versions or nicknames.
Example: Full Legal Name: James William Smith, not Jim Smith
Please be sure to use your entire, complete full legal name when filling out any FAA applications, or other official FAA documentation. Many computer systems will compare names as they are submitted, and if they do not match, your name may not be recognized.