May 1 has come. Go ahead and pinch yourself. Then get out there and fly, if you are one of the early movers who seized the initiative and have already completed the necessary steps under BasicMed rules to be pilot in command of an aircraft having a maximum certificated takeoff weight up to 6,000 pounds, and authorized to carry no more than six total occupants.
Pilots will be permitted to fly as pilot in command day or night, VFR or IFR, up to 18,000 feet msl and 250 knots indicated airspeed. Pilots may carry up to five passengers on the flight, which must be within the United States unless authorized by the country in which the flight is conducted. Flights cannot be for compensation or hire, but flight instruction is permitted.
Here’s the good news: Between April 24 when the FAA made the BasicMed Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist and online medical education course available, and May 1, when the program went live, 1,354 pilots had received BasicMed completion certificates, 3,897 had completed the online medical education course quiz, and 2,412 pilots had begun the online medical education course. It’s that easy.
Bringing about BasicMed was what you might call a long cross-country, sometimes flown in bumpy weather, but ultimately signed into law on July 15, 2016.
AOPA and other general aviation advocates had a lot of help from aviation’s allies in Congress to make third class medical reform a reality. Give yourself a pat on the back if you signed a petition, sent an email to an elected official, passed the good word to a lapsed pilot who had dreamed of getting back into the air, or if you just kept the faith. Your patience has been rewarded.
To recap, you most likely are BasicMed-eligible if you held a valid medical certificate, special issuance or regular, on or after July 15, 2006; your most recent medical was not revoked, suspended, or withdrawn; your most recent application for a medical was not completed and denied or authorization for special issuance withdrawn; you have a valid U.S. driver’s license and comply with all of its restrictions; and you have not developed certain cardiac, neurological, or mental health conditions designated by the FAA since your last valid third class medical.
Those pilots who have one of the medical conditions specified by the FAA in the BasicMed rule will need to obtain only one special issuance medical for that condition before flying under BasicMed rules.
Once you have determined that you are eligible, using AOPA’s Fit to Fly resources, you must visit a state-licensed physician and provide the physician with the FAA-generated Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist.
The 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. The doctor 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 must repeat this physician’s visit every four years (48 months) to continue flying under BasicMed.
Retain the completed checklist with your logbook or in an accurate and legible electronic format. It does not go to the FAA unless requested, such as during a routine ramp check, an investigation, or enforcement action.
With your Comprehensive Medical Examination completed, the next step, which you will repeat every two years (24 calendar months), is to take the free AOPA Medical Self-Assessment Course. You’ll need to provide the FAA with some of the same certifications you do today, 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.
Take the quiz at the end of the course, print out the course completion certificate, and keep it with your logbook.
Now go fly.
It’s been a long road. Medical reform made three good tries at passage starting in 2015 before it finally became law when medical certification provisions of Sen. Jim Inhofe’s Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 were included in the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016.
But pilots weren’t out of the woods yet. As recently as February 2017 there was concern that a new executive order for new regulations to undergo a 60-day review might slow BasicMed’s progress beyond May 1. AOPA reviewed the executive order and determined—to members’ relief—that it would not derail BasicMed.
Now, pilots have the new pathway to exercise their freedom to fly that they were waiting for, but if you feel you need a little help brushing up on regulations, air traffic control, and regaining confidence in your cockpit, AOPA’s Rusty Pilots program, a key component of the umbrella You Can Fly initiative, stands ready to help.
Find a Rusty Pilot Seminar near you. Brush up with a flight instructor, and when you are ready, take a flight review (not a checkride).Just like BasicMed, it’s easy—and you’re back in the left seat.