AOPA worked hard for years on behalf of its members to bring about third class medical reform that the FAA now refers to as BasicMed. AOPA has developed a suite of online resources for pilots and physicians, what we’re calling our “Fit to Fly” resources, to help you make the most of the reforms and enjoy your freedom to fly.
By completing four simple steps, eligible pilots can fly under FAA's BasicMed rules. Review AOPA's BasicMed Pilot and Physician Guide (PDF 651 KB) and BasicMed FAQs (PDF 284 KB) to see if you're eligible to take advantage of BasicMed. If you held a regular or special-issuance medical anytime on or after July 15, 2006, you are likely eligible to fly under BasicMed.
Here are the steps to follow to fly under BasicMed:
Step 1: Print the Comprehensive Medical Exam Checklist. You will see there are two portions to fill out: one for the airman and one for the state-licensed physician. Fill out the airman portion of the form before your doctor visit and bring the whole form with you to your scheduled appointment. If your doctor is not familiar with the BasicMed rule you can provide him or her with the AOPA BasicMed Pilot and Physician Guide (PDF 651 KB) before the exam.
Step 2: The appointment for the physical exam must be made specifically to meet the BasicMed requirement. Past yearly physical exams or other medical visits - even to an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) - cannot be used for BasicMed eligibility. Have your doctor fill out and sign the physician's portion of the Comprehensive Medical Exam Checklist. You will need to refer to this form, again, so keep it handy. In the future, you'll need a BasicMed-specific exam at least once every four years from the date of your last exam.
Step 3: After your doctor visit, take the online Medical Self-Assessment Course. Follow the instructions to create an account for the course, which allows you to track your course progress and to exit and re-enter the course at a later time and pick up where you left off. (Note: This account is different from your AOPA website account.)
Step 4: After completing the course and passing the quiz, you'll be able to print your BasicMed Certificate of Completion. This should be kept in your logbook along with your completed Comprehensive Medical Exam Checklist. No paperwork or coursework needs to be submitted to the FAA. BasicMed allows airmen to self-certify and maintain the documents supporting their eligibility to fly under the rule. In the future, you'll need to retake the BasicMed course and pass the quiz at least once every two years from the end of the month of your last course completion.
That's it! Make sure you have a valid flight review and you are ready to fly.
Pilots whose most recent medical certificate has been revoked, suspended, or withdrawn, had his or her most recent application denied, or authorization for special issuance withdrawn, will need to obtain a new medical certificate before they can operate under BasicMed.
AOPA’s interactive tool will help you see if you qualify.
Once you qualify to fly under BasicMed, at least once every four years (48 months), you’ll need to visit a state-licensed physician. At the visit, you’ll need to provide your physician with an FAA-generated checklist, and your physician will need to affirm that he or she has performed an examination and discussed all the items on the checklist, including medications, with you. Your physician will have to affirm that he or she is unaware of any medical conditions that, as presently treated, could interfere with your ability to safely operate an aircraft. You will then need to retain the completed checklist with your logbook or in an accurate and legible electronic format. You would only provide it to the FAA if requested, such as during a routine ramp check, an investigation, or enforcement action.
Every two years (24 calendar months), you’ll also need to take the free Medical Self-Assessment Course. You’ll need to provide the FAA with some of the same certifications as you have in the past, such as an authorization for the National Driver Register to provide your driving record to the FAA, and a statement that you understand that you cannot act as a pilot in command, or any other capacity as a required flight crew member, if you know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make you unable to operate the aircraft in a safe manner.
The FAA’s Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist, which is included in AOPA’s Pilot & Physician’s Guide, and the AOPA Medical Self-Assessment Course are available online, and eligible pilots can complete the steps to be qualified under the new rules.
Pilots flying under BasicMed are allowed to operate “covered aircraft” defined as having a maximum certificated takeoff weight of not more than 6,000 pounds and are not authorized to carry more than six occupants (up to five passengers plus the pilot in command), at altitudes up to 18,000 feet MSL and at an indicated airspeed of up to 250 knots. Pilots, if appropriately rated, can fly VFR or IFR in “covered aircraft.” Pilots flying under the exemption cannot operate for compensation or hire, and must operate within the United States, unless authorized by the country in which the flight will be conducted.
If you have held a special issuance medical certificate anytime on or after July 15, 2006 and your medical status is unchanged, you should be able to fly under BasicMed provided you meet all the other qualifications, including being under the treatment of a physician for your medical condition. However, if you develop certain cardiac, neurological, or mental health conditions, you will need a one-time-only special issuance for each condition. Read more about health conditions here.
AOPA has developed a Pilot & Physician’s Guide which includes the FAA’s Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist (CMEC). The CMEC includes two forms, one for the airman and one for the physician. The physician's form should be used as a guide for the medical exam.
Airmen should bring their completed portion of the CMEC - an aeromedical self-assessment checklist developed by the FAA - to their scheduled doctor's appointment. The physician will review and discuss it, then complete a physical examination and affirm the absence of any medical condition that could interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft. Physicians are instructed to exercise their discretion to address any medical conditions identified and to determine if any tests are needed.
AOPA believes that BasicMed encourages pilots to have regular and frank conversations with their doctors, allowing both physician and flyer to arrive at an informed medical assessment and treatment plan if needed.
AOPA’s You Can Fly programs are helping to make flying more accessible and affordable. The program supports flying clubs, gets lapsed pilots back in the air, encourages best practices in flight training, brings AOPA's resources and expertise to pilot groups across the country, and helps high school students prepare for careers in aviation. If you need to get current, consider signing up for one of AOPA’s Rusty Pilots seminars.
Third class medical reform, leading to BasicMed, was signed into law on July 15, 2016 by the President, after being passed by the House and Senate a few days earlier. On January 10, the FAA published the final rule, based on the legislation, and set May 1, 2017 as the date the regulations would be effective.
Many thousands of pilots have benefited from BasicMed. No organization fights harder than AOPA to protect your freedom to fly. Winning battles like third class medical reform requires an enormous financial commitment from AOPA – a commitment that can’t be met with member dues alone. A contribution to our Aviation Advocacy Fund will help strengthen your freedom to fly for years and decades to come!