I’m new to aviation, can I use BasicMed?
As a student pilot this question is near and dear to my heart. But, I’m sorry to say if you have never held an FAA-issued airman medical certificate, you do not qualify for BasicMed. Since every BasicMed pilot will need to have held a medical certificate at any time after July 14, 2006, you will need to get one, FAA medical certificate to qualify. However, for those of us who have, or have previously held, an FAA-issued airman medical certificate issued at any point after July 14, 2006, you’re good to go.
Can I exercise my flight instructor certificate when acting as pilot in command (PIC) under BasicMed?
“Yes, but the key term here is PIC,” explains Brad Zeigler, FAA Aviation Safety Analyst and contributing expert on the BasicMed Advisory Circular, AC 68-1A. “An individual may only operate under BasicMed when acting as PIC of an aircraft that is covered under BasicMed,” says Zeigler.
The bottom line is you can exercise your flight instructor certificate as PIC under BasicMed, as long as you are flying a covered aircraft (an aircraft that meets the BasicMed requirements). To see the provisions for a covered aircraft, visit the Aircraft Requirements section at faa.gov/go/basicmed.
Zeigler goes on to say, “in case you were wondering whether you can accept compensation for flight instruction while operating under BasicMed, the answer is ‘yes,’ you may. The FAA generally considers the compensation associated with flight instruction as compensation for teaching, not for flying.”
Can I use BasicMed to act as a safety pilot, instead of holding a medical certificate?
Again, the key term here is PIC. You can use BasicMed while performing the duties of a safety pilot, but only if you are also acting as the PIC. Confused? To clarify, I turned again to Zeigler to shed more light on this topic. “Congress specified that BasicMed applies only to those who are acting as PIC,” says Zeigler. “If you are not acting as PIC, you cannot use BasicMed in lieu of a medical certificate.” In this case, a safety pilot is considered a required flight crewmember, and a flight crewmember is required to hold a medical certificate. If the flight crewmember is not acting as PIC, he or she cannot utilize BasicMed. The safety pilot in this instance requires an FAA-issued airman medical certificate,” explains Zeigler.
Can I use BasicMed privileges to take an Airline Transport Pilot practical test?
Yes, you can, as long as you are flying in a covered aircraft (an aircraft that meets the BasicMed requirements) for that practical test. A person taking any FAA practical test is exercising no more than private pilot privileges because the conducted operation is not for compensation or hire, so they can fly under BasicMed.
Third-Class Medical Holders
Is the third-class medical application similar to the Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist (CMEC) for BasicMed?
Yes. The CMEC is derived from the same exact form used to apply for a FAA medical certificate. It has many of the same questions, and the exam includes the same items. The significant difference is that a state-licensed physician performs a BasicMed comprehensive examination, while an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME), using standards specified in part 67, performs the FAA-issued airman medical exam.
I just completed a third-class medical exam and received a third-class medical certificate. Can I skip the BasicMed comprehensive medical exam, and just use my third-class medical certificate to qualify for BasicMed?
In this case, the answer is no. “The congressional mandate that authorizes BasicMed,” Zeigler cites, “did not allow for an exam, associated with an FAA-issued medical certificate, to substitute for a BasicMed comprehensive medical examination.”
But can I be examined by my AME for BasicMed, and for a FAA medical certificate at the same time?
Yes. An AME can elect to conduct a comprehensive medical examination for BasicMed in the same visit as an examination for an FAA-issued medical certificate. As Zeigler explains, “while a BasicMed comprehensive exam is outside the scope of an AME’s official duties as a representative of the FAA, they may conduct the BasicMed physical exam and sign the CMEC by virtue of being a state-licensed physician, and the exam may be conducted concurrently with an exam for a medical certificate.”
I already have a third-class medical certificate. Can I fly under BasicMed at the same time?
Yes, you can. “BasicMed does not replace a third-class medical, and you can qualify for both at the same time. You do not lose one certificate in favor of another one. BasicMed is an alternative to the third-class medical, it is not a fourth class medical,” Zeigler clarifies. “But,” Zeigler advises, “you have to choose one for each flight; you can’t switch from BasicMed to using your medical, or vice-versa, in mid-flight.”
For dual BasicMed and third-class holders, after your third-class expires after two years, you can continue to fly under BasicMed for up to 48 months from the date of the comprehensive medical exam.
Do I need to keep my expired, paper medical certificate?
It’s not required, but it’s a good idea to keep it. Quick tip — take a picture of it with your phone, or scan it into your computer files.
Types of Doctors
What kind of physician can perform the BasicMed medical exam?
A BasicMed CMEC requires a state-licensed physician to conduct the medical exam, and that physician must be the signatory on the CMEC.
The FAA relies on the determination of each state, territory, and U.S. possession as to which persons it will license as physicians. If the person holds a license as a physician issued by any state, territory, or possession, then that person meets the requirement as a state-licensed physician.
But can a physician extender (such as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) conduct the BasicMed exam?
A physician extender is a health care provider who is not a physician but does perform some medical activities typically done by a physician. Physician extenders are generally nurse practitioners or physician assistants. Registered nurses, medical technicians, and medical support personnel also assist with certain elements of an examination, but they are not considered to be physician extenders. Section 2307 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (FESSA) regulation on BasicMed did not specifically exclude participation by a physician extender, however under BasicMed, the physician is responsible for conducting the medical examination, and the physician must be the signatory on the CMEC.
How do I find a doctor?
A BasicMed CMEC requires a state-licensed physician to conduct the medical exam, and a physician that is familiar with your complete health history is a good choice. Many physicians are familiar with examinations similar to the BasicMed exam, as in physician’s examinations for sports or exercise, a return to work clearance, or a scuba-diving physical.
BasicMed encourages you to have an open dialogue with your doctor. See the article “Doctor, Doctor, Let Me Give You the News” in this issue. It discusses ways in which you can talk to your doctor about BasicMed.