The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued a final rule (PDF) that allows general aviation pilots to fly without holding an FAA medical certificate as long as they meet certain requirements outlined in Congressional legislation.
“The United States has the world’s most robust general aviation community, and we’re committed to continuing to make it safer and more efficient to become a private pilot,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “The BasicMed rule will keep our pilots safe but will simplify our regulations and keep general aviation flying affordable.”
Until now, the FAA has required private, recreational, and student pilots, as well as flight instructors, to meet the requirements of and hold a third class medical certificate. They are required to complete an online application and undergo a physical examination with an FAA-designated Aviation Medical Examiner. A medical certificate is valid for five years for pilots under age 40 and two years for pilots age 40 and over.
Beginning on May 1, pilots may take advantage of the regulatory relief in the BasicMed rule or opt to continue to use their FAA medical certificate. Under BasicMed, a pilot will be required to complete a medical education course, undergo a medical examination every four years, and comply with aircraft and operating restrictions. For example, pilots using BasicMed cannot operate an aircraft with more than six people onboard and the aircraft must not weigh more than 6,000 pounds. A pilot flying under the BasicMed rule must:
- possess a valid driver’s license;
- have held a medical certificate at any time after July 15, 2006;
- have not had the most recently held medical certificate revoked, suspended, or withdrawn;
- have not had the most recent application for airman medical certification completed and denied;
- have taken a medical education course within the past 24 calendar months;
- have completed a comprehensive medical examination with a physician within the past 48 months;
- be under the care of a physician for certain medical conditions;
- have been found eligible for special issuance of a medical certificate for certain specified mental health, neurological, or cardiovascular conditions, when applicable;
- consent to a National Driver Register check;
- fly only certain small aircraft, at a limited altitude and speed, and only within the United States; and
- not fly for compensation or hire.
The July 15, 2016 FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 directed the FAA to issue or revise regulations by January 10, 2017, to ensure that an individual may operate as pilot in command of a certain aircraft without having to undergo the medical certification process under Part 67 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, if the pilot and aircraft meet certain prescribed conditions outlined in the Act.
The FAA and the general aviation community have a strong track record of collaboration. The agency is working with nonprofit organizations and the not-for-profit general aviation stakeholder groups to develop online medical courses that meet the requirements of the Act.
Medical Certification of Small Aircraft Pilots (BasicMed)
On July 15, 2016, Congress passed legislation to extend the FAA’s funding. This legislation, FAA Extension, Safety, Security Act of 2016 (FESSA) includes relief from holding an FAA medical certificate for certain pilots.
When does the legislation take effect?
In the legislation, Congress required that the FAA issue regulations within six months using the guidance in FESSA. The FAA is required to issue or revise regulations to codify the relief in FESSA by January 10, 2017. The FAA has met this deadline, and the regulation will be made available by the Federal Register on Tuesday, January 10. The new relief in the regulations is called BasicMed.
When can I operate under BasicMed?
Although the FAA has published the BasicMed rules, the regulations do not go into effect until May 1, 2017. This is to allow time for a comment period on the information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. After that point, if you meet the BasicMed requirements, you can operate without an FAA medical certificate. The FAA anticipates an online medical course that meets the BasicMed requirements will be available by March 2017.
Basic Pilot Requirements:
- Possess a U.S. driver’s license
- Have held a medical that was valid at any time after July 15, 2006.
- Have completed a medical education course described in FESSA within the past 24 calendar months
- Have received a comprehensive medical examination from a State-licensed physician within the previous 48 months.
- Is under the care and treatment of a physician for certain conditions
- Make certain health attestations and agree to a National Driver Register check
Basic Aircraft Requirements:
- Any aircraft authorized under federal law to carry not more than 6 occupants
- Has a maximum certificated takeoff weight of not more than 6,000 pounds
Basic Operating Requirements:
- Carries not more than five passengers
- Operates under VFR or IFR, within the United States, at less than 18,000 feet MSL, not exceeding 250 knots.
- Flight not operated for compensation or hire