The day the general aviation community has been waiting for is nearly upon us as the FAA has cleared pilots to prepare to fly under new BasicMed rules without holding an FAA medical certificate – as long as they meet certain requirements.
The FAA yesterday released the official BasicMed Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist that pilots must fill out and have completed by a state-licensed physician. The agency has also published a link to the free online AOPA Self-Assessment Course that satisfies the requirement for pilots to complete a medical education course before operating under BasicMed.
Pilots flying under BasicMed rules need only visit their personal doctor once every four years and take the online course every two years. Under BasicMed they can fly day or night, VFR or IFR in airplanes certified with as many as six seats at altitudes below 18,000 feet and speeds under 250 knots. Commercial flights are not permitted under the reforms.
Information from BasicMed doctor visits isn't shared with the FAA, and the exam costs should be greatly reduced since pilots need to visit a physician once every four years as opposed to every two years to obtain a third-class medical. Holders of special issuance medicals will especially benefit from the new rules, which take medical decisions out of the FAA’s hands and put them into the hands of pilots and their personal doctors.
“We fought long and hard for this on behalf of our members and we’re excited that pilots can now start the BasicMed process,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “You’re now cleared to take the necessary steps to get in the air as of May 1.”
Pilots may now make their doctor appointment, have the FAA checklist filled out by their physician, and complete the free AOPA online medical course. Pilots must retain the completed exam checklist with their logbook, along with the certificate of completion from the online medical course. Once these requirements are met, pilots only have to wait until May 1 to exercise the privileges of BasicMed.
AOPA says it anticipates that BasicMed will affect hundreds of thousands of pilots and bring back many who have stopped flying for fear of losing their medical certificate or because of the cost and stress associated with seeking a special issuance medical each year. To help those who have been away from flying, AOPA has created a Rusty Pilots program to make it easier to get back into the cockpit.
“If you’ve been away from flying for a while, don’t worry,” Baker encouraged pilots. “AOPA’s Rusty Pilots seminars will help you knock off the rust and boost your confidence so that you will be ready to act as pilot in command again."