Answers for Pilots: Grandfathered in under 40

The new medical certificate duration

October 1, 2008

The technical specialists in AOPA’s medical department spend much of their time talking with older members who fly on special issuance medical certificates. But with the FAA’s recent extension of the duration of medical certificates for pilots under age 40, we’ve heard from many members who have not yet had their fortieth birthday and have questions on how the changes apply to them. The duration of first class medical certificates was extended from six months to one year, and third class medicals from three years to five. No change was made to the 12-month duration of second class medical certificates.

A 35-year-old pilot with a June 28 birthday had her third class medical renewed in May 2008. Under the old duration guidelines, it would have expired on May 31, 2011, a month before her thirty-eighth birthday. Under the new rule, it is now valid until May 31, 2013, the month before she turns 40. If she renews her certificate before her fortieth birthday, it will also have a five-year duration.

Another 38-year-old pilot had a third class medical that expired in June 2008. He was going to schedule an airman medical exam and called us to confirm that a new medical certificate would be good for five years. His “expired” medical was no longer expired. It was grandfathered in to the new five-year certificate duration and is valid until June 30, 2010.

A 38-year-old pilot went for his exam a week before the new rule took effect. The AME deferred his medical application. When the pilot heard about the new certificate duration, he called AOPA to ask if the grandfathered clause would “undo the deferral.” Unfortunately, not in this case—he will have to wait for the FAA’s decision. However, if the FAA issues him a third-class special issuance medical certificate before his fortieth birthday, it will have a five-year duration. The FAA grants six-year special issuance authorizations for many medical conditions, meaning the authorization is valid for six years, contingent on an annual exam. This pilot might have a medical certificate valid for five years, held under a six-year special issuance authorization that would need to be validated by an AME each year of its duration.

Questions? Give AOPA’s medical specialists a call at 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672).

Membership Q&A

Q: I’m on Automatic Annual Renewal, but I don’t recall getting a membership card for some time now. When do you mail them out?

A: If you’re on Automatic Annual Renewal, your membership card is enclosed in your membership packet that is sent to you each year. If you usually toss that packet in a drawer for future reference, open it up and you should find your card inside. Members who aren’t on Automatic Annual Renewal receive their card for the upcoming year on their first renewal notice. Still can’t find that card? Give us a call or send us an e-mail at Member Services using the contact information below.

Q: I’m thinking about buying an aircraft. How can AOPA help me?

A: AOPA Member Products offers four aircraft ownership-related products. The AOPA Aircraft Financing Program can get you qualified in minutes for an aircraft loan at competitive rates with long repayment terms. The AOPA Aircraft Insurance Agency can obtain quotes from multiple A-rated underwriters and provide you with the best advice and the right policy for your needs. AOPA Aircraft Title Services can provide you with essential lien information about the aircraft you plan on purchasing to help you avoid ownership challenges and can file your documents with the FAA. And the AOPA Legal Services Plan will review your purchasing documents and keep you protected while you’re flying.

Q: When’s the best time to call AOPA’s toll-free number for service or information?

A: Our call center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern time) Monday through Friday. Our staff goes to lunch in shifts between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. (ET) daily, so we aren’t able to cover as many phone lines during that period. So if you call before or after that time period, you increase the chance that your call will go right through to a representative or at least minimize your hold time. If it’s more convenient for you, send us an e-mail instead.

Member Services contact information:

Phone: 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672), 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday

After hours: Renew your membership, reset your Web password or enroll in Automatic Annual Renewal using our self-service touch-tone phone option.

E-mail: [email protected]

Web: Update your personal information, renew your membership and much more by clicking on Manage My Membership on the Membership Services Web site.

Kathy Dondzila

Kathy Dondzila | Manager, Technical Communications, Pilot Information Center

Technical Communications Manager, Kathy Dondzila, joined AOPA in 1990 and is an instrument-rated private pilot.