The FAA’s recent move to extend third class medicals from three to five years and first class medicals from six months to one year for pilots under 40 was met with mixed emotions from the aviation community.
“Not surprisingly, pilots under 40 loved the move, while those over the age limit were upset to miss out on fewer trips to the AME,” said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. “AOPA will continue to work to make medical standards better reflect today’s environment.”
“Fantastic job on reducing my visits to the AME and saving me time and money,” one member wrote to AOPA. “Now I just need to remember to do it every five years.”
Basically, first and third class medicals that were issued to pilots under 40 (at the time of issuance) are now good for one and five years, respectively, even if the pilot has since turned 40.
Some expired medical certificates are now good again. If the medical has not been expired more than one year (for first class) or five years (for third class), then it is still good for the remainder of this new time period, based on the original issuance date.
As previously reported, AOPA supported the FAA’s plan to extend the life of first and third class medicals. However, the association had also advocated that the FAA consider extending the longer-duration medicals to pilots over age 40 and allowing pilots to use a driver’s license medical to fly under the recreational certificate privileges.
“This helps reduce the cost of flying for young pilots. The FAA has come a long way, but there’s still work to do,” said Cebula.
The FAA stuck with the age 40 limit to conform to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. The new medical durations for the first and third class certificates were changed to match ICAO’s certificates.
“Unfortunately, the FAA did not address our request to grant driver’s license medicals to pilots operating under the recreational certificate,” said Cebula. “The agency said it was outside the scope of the proposal. This is something we’ve advocated for decades, and we won’t stop now.”