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3. Possible Exam Outcomes

Pilot Tips for the FAA Airman Medical Exam

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You must hold a valid and current pilot medical certificate to pilot any powered aircraft except when exercising sport pilot privileges.

Hints for Your FAA Medical Examination and Keeping Your Pilot Medical Certificate

3. Understand the three possible outcomes of an FAA medical examination

First, the expected outcome for a physical examination is that the medical certificate will be ISSUED. In this circumstance, the pilot completes the FAA Form 8500-8, Application For Medical Certification, at the time of the physical examination and assuming he or she meets all of the standards, walks out of the AME's office with a new medical certificate in hand. The overwhelming majority of physical exams have this result.

A second result is a DENIAL of the medical certificate. If pilot's clearly do not meet FAA medical standards, particularly if they have conditions that are specifically grounding in Part 67 of the FARs or the Guide to Aviation Medical Examiners, the aviation medical examiner may issue a denial letter to the pilot revoking the pilot's current medical privileges. That information is forwarded to the FAA Aeromedical Certification Division which will then issue a formal denial letter and request return of the current Airman's Medical Certificate. Denials are not necessarily permanent. If the pilot can present information that the disqualifying medical condition has resolved or is being treated in an aeromedically safe manner, the FAA may reinstate the airman's medical certificate.

The third possible outcome is an intermediate decision termed a DEFERRAL. In this situation, the AME notes a medical condition that is questionable with regards to eligibility for medical certification. The pilot takes the physical examination, but rather than issue the medical certificate or give the pilot a denial letter, the AME defers the application and medical certificate to the Regional Flight Surgeon or the Aeromedical Certification Division in Oklahoma City. With the AME's permission, the pilot may continue to fly on their current medical certificate until it lapses.

Unfortunately, deferrals often take 2 or more months to obtain a response from the FAA.  The FAA response letters frequently request the pilot provide additional medical information to support the application.  A 30 day suspense from the date of the FAA letter on this reporting requirement is common.  If no information is received at the end of the period, the FAA may deny the airman's medical certificate.  Assuming there is not a grounding condition, the pilot is not eligible to use the older medical certificate after it expires. Instead, the pilot must await the arrival of the previously deferred certificate to be returned from the FAA office to which the AME forwarded it.  If additional information is required by the FAA, this process may take several months.  Submission of complete information to the FAA is CRITICAL to timely certification decisions.

Savvy pilots can see the advantage in this situation of having the AME call the FAA Regional office or AMCD to get an answer immediately rather than using the mail to handle a deferred medical application.  Also see "Documentation."

Tips For FAA Medical Exam

1.  Establish a long term relationship with an AME

2.  Select an AME that you and other pilots are comfortable using.

3.  Understand the three possible outcomes of an FAA medical examination

4.  Take your physical examination early in the month that it is due

5.  DO NOT take a physical examination if you are not medically qualified

6.  Bring appropriate documentation

7.  Bring glasses, contact lenses or hearing aids, if required

8.  Prepare physically for the examination

9.  Understand reporting responsibilities on your FAA medical application

10.  Remember to check the blocks regarding drug and alcohol offenses and other legal encounters

11.  Be prepared to send further information to the FAA upon request

12.  Contact an aviation medicine specialist early for any questions you may have

13.  Interview Portion: Understand in advance the questions you must answer and the declarations you must make.

14.  Exam Portion: Understand how the Examination will be conducted.

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