Regulatory and Certification Policy
AOPA is working to obtain authorization to allow pilots to submit their TurboMedical® application electronically to the FAA, significantly reducing the hassles of completing the FAA form and reducing the chances of errors and delays in pilots getting their medical certificates. TurboMedical is a Web-based tool to help pilots prepare to obtain their medical certificates. Pilots who use TurboMedical® will be less likely to have the FAA delay or deny the issuance of their medical certificate. TurboMedical® checks the pilot's answers and flags anything that might cause problems in issuing a medical certificate. The innovative online form "interviews" the pilot to ensure that all of the information on FAA's Form 8500-8 (application for an airman medical certificate or student pilot certificate) is filled in correctly. The program provides interpretive explanations for each item of the medical application. Because TurboMedical® is an interactive tool, it prompts the user with links to specific additional information based upon the responses to each item of the medical application.
After you have finished completing the form, save your answers and print a copy. Take it with you to your appointment with your medical examiner. Your AME can now submit the hard copy of TurboMedical® as a substitute for the FAA 8500-8. You will need to sign the TurboMedical form in the presence of the AME or a member of the AME staff, and the front copy of the 8500-8 will be stapled to the TurboMedical® application and mailed to the FAA. If you have questions, please call the AOPA medical staff at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).
The importance to our members
Most active pilots must get a medical certificate. Approximately 450,000 applications for airmen medical certification are processed each year. Despite the government's efforts to streamline the review process and speed the issuance of medical certificates, ongoing administrative and technology challenges continue to result in lengthy delays for some pilots whose medical applications have to be reviewed by the Aerospace Medical Certification Division. The FAA is currently taking up to three months to review medical applications. Numerous factors contribute to the overall member frustration leading to lost flying time and, in many cases, a decision to no longer participate in general aviation. Problems with the medical process occur at all levels beginning with the airman, progressing through the AMEs and culminating with a significant backlog at the FAA's Aerospace Medical Certification Division. Some 30 percent of those delays are caused by simple errors on the application form, resulting in the deferring of medicals to the FAA's Aerospace Medical Certification Division when they should be issued. Once that application is deferred, it cannot be closed out until all the inconsistencies are resolved, and that requires an FAA reviewer to examine the application and find out why it was deferred.
TurboMedical® is intended to help AOPA members complete FAA Form 8500-8, the application for Airman Medical Certificate (and Student Pilot Certificate) and avoid common errors and the deferrals of medicals due to a lack of information when reporting a new condition.
The FAA's acceptance of AOPA's TurboMedical® will cut down on application errors and reduce delays in receiving medical certification. While the FAA has committed to implementing a Web-based electronic medical application, the FAA's system will not provide the in-depth guidance provided by AOPA's TurboMedical®, thus not eliminating the delay causing errors and omissions. It is AOPA's position that the FAA should allow AOPA to link TurboMedical® to the FAA's system, currently in development.
AOPA is working to obtain authorization from the FAA to allow pilots to submit their TurboMedical® application electronically to the FAA, significantly reducing the number of errors generated by inaccurate or incomplete applications. While security and privacy concerns are paramount to all involved, AOPA is confident that these issues can be worked through to a successful resolution. If private citizens can file their taxes with the IRS electronically using third-party software, then it seems reasonable and prudent that pilots should be allowed to just as easily file their TurboMedical® application electronically to the FAA or their AME.