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Frequently Asked Questions—Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs)

Aviation Medical Examiners (AMEs)

Q: In the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) Directory, what does the term “Senior” mean?

A: According to FAA Order 8520.2E, a Senior Aviation Medical Examiner is an AME given the additional authority by the FAA to accept applications and perform physical examinations necessary to determine qualifications for the issuance of first class airman medical certificates under FAR Part 67. To be designated as a Senior AME, the physician must have demonstrated compliance with the requirements for continued service as an AME and acceptable prior performance as an AME for a period of at least 3 years.

Q. Can I use my family doctor as my AME instead of having to see two different physicians?

A: Yes, you can, but we don’t always recommend that. Your AME is an FAA designee, so if you see him/her as a patient with a medical problem that you don’t yet wish to reveal to the FAA, you just did. Even though the AME may not pass that information on to the FAA, that does happen, and it may create a situation in which you have to deal with the FAA sooner than you might normally have to. Since the AME/family physician plays different roles when you are a patient, the confidentiality that exists between the two of you may not exist any more because of the AME role. It’s generally better to use your AME only for your FAA examination and have a more comprehensive annual physical with your family practitioner, as well. Most AMEs would agree that it’s best not to place them in a position of having to wear the two hats of personal physician and aviation medical examiner when you see them.

The FAA physical exam is not intended to take the place of periodic comprehensive physical exams with your own doctor; however, some potentially serious medical problems have been discovered by AMEs during the FAA physical.

Q: I will need to renew my FAA medical certificate in the next couple of months. I’d like to find an aviation medical examiner (AME) who also is a pilot. Can AOPA help me find one in my area?

A: Yes, we can. AOPA’s Aviation Medical Examiner database is searchable by AME name, city, county, or state and also includes the airman certificates and ratings held by each AME. As a reminder, use AOPA’s TurboMedical Interactive Medical Application before your next FAA physical to anticipate any potential issues that may require additional information.

Q: How much does an FAA exam cost?

A: The FAA doesn’t set fees for aviation medical examiners; however, guidelines suggest that the AME set the exam fees based on market conditions for the examiner’s geographic area. A first class medical is usually more expensive than a third-class, especially if an electrocardiogram is required. On average, a third class medical costs about $80, while a 1st class may run cost $100.00 or more. The electrocardiogram for a first class medical averages $61.00.

Q. I’d like a copy of my medical application so I can use it as a check to make sure I don’t leave anything off my next one.  Can I get a copy from the AME?

A. The FAA Form 8500-8 Application for Airman Medical Certificate includes two copies of the application in addition to the original. One is for the AME record and the other one is yours. If the AME doesn’t offer you one, be sure to ask for it. Even better, use AOPA’s interactive medical application, TurboMedical® and save your responses so you can print them out before your next visit to the aviation medical examiner.

Updated October 28, 2009