The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, after championing the decades-long push for long-overdue medical certification reform, has released a report on how BasicMed has kept safe pilots flying and free from unnecessary red tape and delays over the past five years.
President Barack Obama signed into law legislation that created what is now referred to as BasicMed on July 15, 2016. Since the program became available to pilots on May 1, 2017, more than 66,000 aviators have qualified to fly under it.
“With hundreds of thousands of general aviation pilots in the United States, I am encouraged that we are experiencing the best safety numbers in years, even while the skies are busier than ever. The data clearly show that BasicMed has been an undeniable success,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Medical reform was a top priority for me as soon as I joined AOPA, and what we expected with these reforms has now come to fruition. I am so pleased that BasicMed is being embraced by pilots for its effectiveness.”
The AOPA Air Safety Institute reported that the GA accident rate, based on National Transportation Safety Board data, including BasicMed pilots, is at its lowest level in decades, continuing to drop every year since the 1990s. The GA community has never had a stronger focus on safety, and the FAA continues to make U.S. airspace the safest in the world.
The fundamentals of BasicMed remain simple and straightforward. A pilot must have held a valid FAA medical certificate at least once since July 14, 2006 (that was not suspended or revoked), have not had the most recent medical application denied, and have not had the most recent authorization for special issuance withdrawn. In addition, the pilot must not have had any change in a mental health disorder, neurological disorder, or cardiovascular condition. Pilots who meet those conditions can elect to see their own state-licensed physician or an FAA aviation medical examiner for subsequent required exams every 48 months, and then take an online medical education course every 24 months. The operational limitations associated with BasicMed privileges include a maximum takeoff weight of 6,000 pounds, 250 knots indicated airspeed, and altitudes up to (but not including) 18,000 feet msl. Pilots flying under BasicMed are allowed to operate “covered aircraft” not authorized to carry more than six occupants (up five passengers and the pilot in command).
Mexico and the Bahamas have embraced BasicMed and allow U.S. pilots flying under this medical alternative to enter their airspace and land at their airports. The GA community is actively working to expand the acceptance of these reforms to other countries.
AOPA provides many of the resources pilots need to succeed under BasicMed, including tools to determine eligibility and how to apply, along with the checklist that needs to be reviewed by the pilot and physician, a physician finder, an online medical course, and tools to file the application.
AOPA’s website also provides aviators with engaging and informative videos about BasicMed and all steps necessary to use it, as well as helpful FAQs for pilots and physicians. The online course and education materials cover topics such as how to conduct a health self-assessment when to see a doctor, conditions that may require a closer look, and how to use diet and exercise to stay sharp for the flight deck.
Read AOPA’s story.