All pilots, other than those flying light sport aircraft under the pilot rules or operating a glider or balloon, must possess or have possessed a FAA medical certificate (after July 14, 2006 for BasicMed) in order to fly legally. This is one of the reasons many pilots choose the Light Sport Aircraft flying under the Sport Pilot rules. No FAA medical required.
It should be noted that pilots returning to flying AFTER not flying for a while can use BasicMed to fly many general aviation aircraft heavier and faster than light-sport aircraft IF they had a valid medical AFTER July 14, 2006. If your medical was only valid before July 14, 2006, you are not eligible for BasicMed and must go for Sport Pilot privilege’s per 61.303 (2) (ii). More on BasicMed is covered at the bottom of this page if you want tp pursue BasicMed.
It should be noted that Ultralight Pilots operating a single seat Ultralight under FAR Part 103 do not need a drivers license, pilots certificate or medical certificate.
Sport pilots have a choice of whether to fly holding an FAA medical certificate or use your current and valid driver’s license as medical eligibility. Please see the information below for more details on the option you can choose:
FAA medical and the student pilot certificate:
Medical certificates, or “medicals” for short, are required for anyone other than a sport pilot who is acting as pilot in command. There are three kinds of medicals: first, second, and third class, each with its own requirements, duration, and privileges.
Previously, the medical certificate and student pilot certificate are combined on one form, FAA Form 8420-2, and was issued by a doctor, called an aviation medical examiner (AME), who has been approved by the FAA to administer the medical exam.
Recently, the Student Pilot Certificate and the FAA Medical are separate certificates. Now you must apply for both separately.
- To apply for a medical certificate, you make an appointment with an aviation medical examiner (AME), go to web site https://medxpress.faa.gov/medxpress/ and fill out the form for your AME appointment.
- To apply for a Student Pilot Certificate, go into https://iacra.faa.gov/iacra/Login.aspx and create an account and apply for a student [pilot certificate. You will need to then see a flight instructor to OK the form and it will be sent into the FAA for approval.
Both medical certificate and student pilot certificate is easy to carry in your logbook, wallet, or purse and required to be in your possession when you fly solo.
Driver’s license and the student pilot certificate:
The sport pilot rule allows a pilot to fly light-sport aircraft (LSA) without the need for an FAA medical certificate. However, a sport pilot must hold at least a current and valid U.S. driver’s license in order to exercise this privilege. As stated earlier, the only exceptions are for operations in a glider or balloon, which does not require a driver’s license.
A person using a current and valid U.S. driver’s license must comply with each restriction and limitation imposed by that person’s U.S. driver’s license and any judicial or administrative order applying to the operation of a motor vehicle. That person must also meet the requirements of 14 CFR 61.23(c)(2), which states the following:
- Not have had his or her most recently issued medical certificate (if the person has held a medical certificate) suspended or revoked or most recent Authorization for a Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate withdrawn; and
- Not know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make that person unable to operate a light-sport aircraft in a safe manner.
To apply for a Student Pilot Certificate, go into https://iacra.faa.gov/iacra/Login.aspx and create an account and apply for a student pilot certificate. You will need to then see a flight instructor to OK the form and it will be sent into the FAA for approval.
Exceptions to the Driver’s License Medical
There are some people who are not allowed to use a driver’s license to satisfy the medical requirement.
Specifically, individuals who previously held an Airman Medical Certificate or an Authorization for Special Issuance that has been denied, suspended, withdrawn, or revoked; or whose most recent application for an Airman Medical Certificate did not result in their being found qualified for at least a third-class Airman Medical Certificate, cannot use a driver’s license to exercise Sport Pilot privileges.
Pilots who previously held medical certificates that merely expired are allowed to use their driver’s licenses to meet the medical requirements for sport pilot privileges. This is subject to the self-certification requirements that apply to all pilots and consulting with their personal physicians regarding any known medical conditions.
Special Issuance Medical Certificates
Pilots who once held medical certificates which were denied, suspended, withdrawn, or revoked should apply for an Authorization for Special Issuance in accordance with FAR 67.401. A Special Issuance is an Airman Medical Certificate issued to someone who ordinarily would not qualify for one. The process of obtaining a Special Issuance medical certificate is long, complex, and often expensive.
If you’re currently a sport pilot using your driver’s license as a medical, and you apply for a Special Issuance medical certificate and are denied, you’ll no longer be able to use your driver’s license as a medical. So it’s extremely important that you where you are health-wise before you apply. If your application for a Special Issuance is denied, you’ll lose even the flying privileges that you already have.
Words of wisdom: It’s best to let your medical expire and fly as a sport pilot in LSA rather than have it denied, revoked, withdrawn, or suspended and have to clear the medical or not fly at all.
BasicMed for Private Pilots and above per 61.23 (c)
Basic med allows someone who held a medical certificate since July 15, 2006 to use BasicMed and fly heavier than LSA airplanes with limitations similar the the sport pilot rules (no night flying or above 18,000 foot above sea level). You simply get an exam from a state certified doctor, take a knowledge test and you are good to go. Specific requirements for the course and medical examination are found at FAR 68.3. The limitations are FAR 61.113(i). But you must have had a FAA medical since July 15, 2006, if no FAA medical after July 15, 2006, you have to get a FAA medical to use BasicMed. So if you think you might fail the FAA medical, just fly Light-Sport Aircraft as a sport pilot and do not risk it. You fail a medical, you are done with your solo or PIC until you clear it.