The FAA Extends Pilot Medical Certification Renewal

Published: 04-13-2020
You still need to get your medical certificate. Read the details here.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is changing every sector in American life, including our careers. For pilots, the epidemic has caused a massive disruption in the aviation industry, due to a decreased number of passengers.

A well-publicized aspect of coronavirus is that the outbreak has put a lot of pressure on our healthcare system. Citizens are being asked to help “flatten the curve”, so there are enough doctors, nurses, and medical devices for everyone who needs them.

One health industry shortage that has occurred with the coronavirus epidemic is a shortage of FAA-accredited medical examiners, and this will affect when pilots can renew their heath certificates.

Medical Certification Renewals

When pilots and crew go to renew their certification they are required to get a physical checkup. During the routine examination, medical examiners confirm the patient is physically fit enough to operate an airplane.

Pilots are frequently asked to get a check up.. But in case you are not familiar, the following list breaks down how often pilots must undergo the federally-mandated exam:

  • First Class - Over 40: twice a year, six months apart

  • First Class - Under 40: once a year

  • Second Class - All: every twelve months

  • Third Class - Over 40: every two years

  • Third Class - Under 40: every five years

Traditionally, those that did not abide by the regulations above would no longer be able to legally fly. With these strict requirements in place, it may come as a surprise that FAA has changed these stipulations.

According to the FAA website, “Recent events regarding the COVID pandemic have led to significant access problems to Aviation Medical Examiners and other medical specialists.”

FAA Exemptions

In light of these accessibility issues, the FAA has decided to temporarily alter the medical certification renewal requirements. This limited exemption extends to all captains, pilots, and crew members from March 31st to June 30th, 2020.

...the FAA will not enforce airman medical certificates which expire between the dates of March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020. The period of non-enforcement will be in place thru June 30, 2020.”

Although this move will likely alleviate much-needed resources in the healthcare sector, the FAA also stated that if you can renew your medical certification, you should. “If you are able, we continue to encourage airmen to accomplish their regularly required airman medical certificate exam with an FAA AME.”

Despite encouraging pilots to new their medical certificates within the regular timeframe, the FAA does promise to publish any information on possible alternatives to the normal methods of renewing your certificate.

Also, if you need to provide additional medical information from a doctor as part of your renewal, the FAA is also willing to grant a one-time extension for that additional documentation.

For exact wording of the FAA documentations, go here.

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