Following the highly successful launch of BasicMed in May (more than 5,000 pilots and counting), we have received several questions about its impact on flying clubs. Reading between the lines, Club Connector readers are interested in:
BasicMed applies to individual pilots, rather than to entities like flying clubs. So, individual members of a club can take advantage of BasicMed, provided of course they meet the requirements, and that the club aircraft and operations fall within the limitations of BasicMed. Under the new rules, qualified individuals (see the FAQs on eligibility and qualifications) may act as pilot in command of an aircraft with a maximum certificated take-off weight of not more than 6,000 pounds, which is authorized to carry no more than 6 occupants. The rules do not contain any other limitations on category or class, complex or high performance aircraft, or number of engines, so appropriately rated pilots can also fly light twins or any other aircraft under BasicMed that meet the requirements above. BasicMed pilots may act as pilot in command of these aircraft on flights up to 18,000 feet MSL and up to 250 Knots IAS, while carrying the pilot and up to five passengers. BasicMed pilots cannot fly for compensation or hire. As most clubs fall within these limitations, BasicMed is something to seriously consider.
As BasicMed pilots, you can fly VFR or IFR (with the appropriate equipment, ratings, and currency of course), but are currently limited to operations with the USA and the Bahamas unless otherwise authorized. AOPA is working hard to get BasicMed accepted by other countries – but bear this is mind if your club is located close to Canadian or Mexican borders, or if your members fly to other international destinations.
Once a pilot is BasicMed qualified and determines that the club aircraft can be flown under the new rules, it is worth checking the club’s by-laws to see if they contain any wording specifically requiring club pilots to hold a medical certificate, or any other requirements that, as written, may not be satisfied by a pilot who is qualified under BasicMed but does not hold a current and valid FAA issued medical certificate. If you do discover such an issue, you can work with your club board to amend the by-laws to include BasicMed.
Regarding insurance, AOPA has contacted several insurance carriers and concluded that BasicMed should have no adverse impact on individual coverage. Given the special nature of club insurance, we spoke with AOPA insurance Services (AOPAIS), who confirmed that most underwriters honor BasicMed and that quotes for new policies or renewals will state if this is not the case. If you have an existing club policy, AOPAIS recommends that you call your carrier or agent to ensure that BasicMed is honored for the duration of the policy. Again, check with your carrier to be sure.
As you may know, if you have previously held a medical certificate on or after July 15, 2016, regular or special issuance, and you did not have your most recent medical denied, suspended, or revoked, or your most recent authorization for special issuance withdrawn, you are probably eligible to fly under BasicMed. If you have developed certain cardiovascular, neurological, or mental health conditions since your last medical, BasicMed rules requires you obtain a one-time special issuance.
There are quite a few advantages of BasicMed – for example, if you are over forty, you need only to meet with your own doctor every 4-years, rather than the 2-year visit to your AME. For flying clubs, advantages include members flying longer without “fearing” the standard medical, and club CFIs can fly and instruct under BasicMed – which hopefully keeps more CFIs in the right seat.
AOPA has been the central driving force behind third-class medical reform and has created a wealth of information and resources on the topic of BasicMed – follow this link for more details and to take a simple quiz to see if you qualify for BasicMed.
One final word - several members of the AOPA You Can Fly team have now qualified under BasicMed – it really is as quick and easy as advertised!