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BasicMed turns twoBasicMed turns two

Editor's note: This article was updated May 1, 2019, to correct the altitude below which pilots can fly using BasicMed. Pilots can fly below 18,000 feet msl with BasicMed. We regret the error.

It’s hard to believe, but the successful effort to reform the third class medical process, today known as BasicMed, turns two years old on May 1. And while nearly 50,000 pilots have already taken advantage of the new medical process, many still have questions.

iStock photo.

For those who need a refresher, BasicMed was enacted into law on May 1, 2017, after several decades of no movement at the FAA. When AOPA President Mark Baker came on board, he directed our government affairs team to work with Congress and the FAA to finally fix the costly and bureaucratic system that had developed over the years and BasicMed was born. 

When using BasicMed, pilots can fly single- or twin-engine aircraft capable of flying up to 250 knots and 18,000 feet msl, with a maximum take-off weight of up to 6,000 pounds, and up to six seats.

For the nearly 50,000 airmen flying under BasicMed, its significance can’t be overstated. Many of those pilots had to endure the time-consuming, costly, and sometimes unnecessary medical testing and process of obtaining multiple special issuances. Discouraged, many gave up on flying. However, thanks to BasicMed provisions, thousands of pilots are once again airborne.

Under 14 CFR Part 68, the regulations that govern BasicMed, a pilot in command must receive a comprehensive medical examination by a state-licensed physician every 48 months (calculated to the exact day); plus he or she must complete an online medical education course every 24 calendar months (calculated to the last day of the month). At this two-year anniversary, BasicMed pilots just need to refresh their aeronautical knowledge through the Medical Self-Assessment Course.

For those pilots already flying under BasicMed, your two-year online medical education course requirement could be fast approaching, and you will need to take the course again. Those pilots will need to enter the same doctor’s exam data from the first physical they received, including the name, the state medical license number of the doctor who performed the BasicMed exam, the date of the exam from two years ago, and the doctor’s contact information.

After completing the online medical education course, get out and fly! AOPA submits the basic information that you provided at the end of the course to the FAA on your behalf. Just remember to keep track of your physical exam date when you’ll be due for another doctor's visit in two more years.

Here is a link to some frequently asked questions about BasicMed, and for pilots who still have questions or are unfamiliar with BasicMed, AOPA has a number of resources on its Fit to Fly page. Pilots can also obtain answers to general BasicMed questions by contacting the Pilot Information Center for assistance via email or by phone (888-462-3976).

AOPA Communications staff

Topics: Advocacy, Medical Reform, Pilots

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