AOPA has launched a new, Web-based tool to help pilots prepare to obtain their medical certificates. AOPA's TurboMedical® is the first of a series of "intelligent" online forms to come from AOPA.
Pilots who use TurboMedical® will be less likely to have the FAA delay or deny the issuance of their medical certificate.
"AOPA's Web site offers more resources to pilots than any other aviation site on the Internet," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "TurboMedical® is an innovative way to use the Web to remove some of the uncertainty of applying for a medical."
The innovative online form "interviews" the pilot to ensure that all of the information on the FAA's Form 8500-8 (application for an airman medical certificate or student pilot certificate) is filled in correctly.
TurboMedical® checks the pilot's answers and flags anything that might cause problems in issuing a medical certificate.
"The FAA's Aeromedical Certification Division is currently taking up to three months to review medical applications," said Gary Crump, AOPA director of medical certification. "Some 30 percent of those delays are caused by simple errors on the application form."
TurboMedical® checks for those errors.
The online form takes pilots step-by-step through the 20 question areas on the medical application form. For each question, the form explains exactly what the FAA is looking for and why it is asking the question. And there are links to AOPA's expansive online medical data for more information.
The form provides advice on the best way to answer each question. For example, TurboMedical® tells a pilot that it is usually best to apply for the lowest class of medical that you actually need. Under FAA regulations, even CFIs need just a third class medical certificate to provide flight instruction for compensation, although employers may require a higher class of medical.
TurboMedical® is particularly useful in helping the pilot answer the medication, medical history, and medical visit questions.
When a pilot answers the question, "Do you currently use any medications?" TurboMedical® checks the answer against AOPA's list of FAA-accepted drugs. For example, TurboMedical® will tell a pilot that the popular over-the-counter drug Benadryl is acceptable to the FAA as long as the pilot waits 24 hours after taking it before flying.
But if the drug isn't on the list, TurboMedical® will flag it and provide links to more information. There is even a direct e-mail link to AOPA's medical experts so the pilot can ask specific questions.
If a pilot answers "yes" to one of the medical history questions, TurboMedical® will search for key words in the explanation to be able to provide more information to the pilot.
A pilot can skip a question and return to it later. TurboMedical® will temporarily store the answers. A pilot can choose how long TurboMedical® will store the answers.
All of a pilot's answers on the TurboMedical® form remain absolutely confidential. No one but the pilot will ever have access to the medical information. Data is stored on a secured server, and data transmissions are encrypted.
Once a pilot has completed all of the questions, TurboMedical® will review the form for completeness and accuracy. The pilot can then print out a copy to take to the medical examiners office. Pilots should also keep a copy in their personal records.
"TurboMedical® is an educational, self-help tool to help pilots prepare to complete the medical form in the doctor's office," said Crump. "But for the future, we're working on an 'FAA-approved' version of TurboMedical® that you can complete online and e-mail to your FAA designated medical examiner prior to the examination."
The 375,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than one half of the nation's pilots are AOPA members.