Answers for Pilots

Medical certification woes

January 1, 2007

AOPA's TurboMedical can help

The aviation medical certification process can be a foreign concept to most general aviation pilots. With a visit to the aviation medical examiner (AME) occurring only once every few years, it's no wonder pilots get trapped by the process. That's why AOPA developed TurboMedical, a tool to help members navigate through the often-bumpy medical certification process.

TurboMedical is an interactive prep tool designed to help you in advance of the medical exam. Unfortunately, many pilots don't realize until it's too late that they may have a problem getting their medicals. Once you've started an exam, there is no way to stop, even if you know you will be disqualified. With TurboMedical, you can be reasonably assured of your ability to get through the process with your certificate.

The form couldn't be easier. Questions are asked individually, directly from the FAA's medical application form, in a way that all pilots can understand. The great feature of the form is that it alerts you to any potential pitfalls before it's too late.

Question 17 about medication is a perfect example of where the program shines. Say you are taking beta blockers for hypertension. Checking yes to the question in the AME's office with no supporting documentation will likely result in your application being deferred. On the other hand, TurboMedical will alert you to the required documentation when you select yes, thereby taking away the risk of having your application deferred for a simple paperwork issue.

The same goes for questions about everything from medication to prior medical history to driving while impaired. If it's on the FAA's medical application form 8500-8, TurboMedical will help you through it.

The application remains only a prep tool at this point because the FAA is not capable of receiving the form electronically, although AOPA has lobbied the FAA repeatedly to accept TurboMedical as an official application. In the meantime, the form must be filled out at home, printed, and brought to the AME's office, where you can use it as a guide when filling out an official 8500-8.

To access the interactive program, visit AOPA Online.

Remember to contact AOPA's medical certification staff for any questions relating to TurboMedical or the FAA's medical certification process. The professionals in the medical department can help unravel the mysteries of the FAA medical certification process. They are available during normal business hours from Monday through Friday at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).

Membership Q&A

Answers to frequently asked questions about your AOPA membership

Q: Do you provide any membership phone support after your normal business hours?

A: Yes. On the weekends and in the evenings after 6 p.m. (Eastern time), you can use our automated voice system to renew your membership, enroll in automatic annual renewal, or reset your password if you're having trouble logging on to our Web site. Call 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672) and follow the prompts. Another great resource for help is the My AOPA Membership area of our Web site, which you can access through the link in the left column of our home page. You can update your membership information, renew your membership, enroll in programs, and even find answers to frequently asked questions.

Q: A friend of mine who is an AOPA member says he gets a weekly e-mail from AOPA that's full of great information. How can I start receiving it?

A: AOPA members can subscribe to our weekly ePilot newsletter simply by providing us with their e-mail address. Send us an e-mail, provide your member number and e-mail address, and tell us you'd like to start receiving ePilot.

Q: Could I be putting myself at by risk flying without renters insurance?

A: Yes, you could be putting yourself at risk. But, most important you're putting yourself in financial jeopardy when flying without renters insurance. The average cost of an aviation claim is $30,000, in addition to legal fees, which average $20,000 per accident but can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the circumstances. AOPA Insurance Agency offers renters policies for as low as $90. Call the AOPA Insurance Agency to make sure you are covered (800/622-2672).

Contact information

Phone: 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672), from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time from Monday through Friday
Web: Update your personal information, renew your membership, and much more by clicking on My AOPA Membership in the left column of our home page.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly | "Flight Training" Editor

AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.