Earlier this year when the FAA adopted the BasicMed path to FAA medication certification, we were skeptical that this mixed bag approach to what we’d expected to be a “drivers license medical” would do much.
We were wrong. It’s been a real success in its own way.
According to the FAA, more than 15,000 pilots have earned their medical certification since the rule was adopted just a few months back, and the stories we’re hearing from medical examiners point to the kind of outcome that we’d all hoped for from the get-go for pilots facing a challenge getting their medical.
Though I’d wanted to go the BasicMed route in getting my most recent FAA certification, I had to do the Third-Class medical instead, thanks (or no thanks) to my company’s insurance carrier. But I had a chance to chat with my longtime AME, Mark Nugent, about the process, and he was nothing short of enthusiastic about the new certification.
According to Nugent, and other AMEs who are talking about it, BasicMed was tailor made for pilots who have never been denied a medical but who have a condition that requires a special issuance. With BasicMed, many of these pilots, including several who are patients of Nugent’s, can get their certification without having to jump through what can be extensive and expensive hoops the FAA sets up for them before they get their slip of paper.
This is a great deal for those pilots, and we’re all either in their shoes already or one diagnosis away from there. So while BasicMed doesn’t make the medical much easier (if at all), and while it doesn’t eliminate the paperwork the way the Sport Pilot’s true driver’s license medical does, it’s terrific for exactly what it is doing—giving a new lease on life to a lot of pilots who otherwise might be struggling and possibly spending a lot to satisfy the FAA in search of a conventional medical certificate. It is likely that many of the pilots who used BasicMed to get back in the air also could have used an even more relaxed version of medical certification, like Sport Pilot’s, to overcome the FAA medical hurdle.
So we’re spreading the word. If you’ve stepped away from flying because you’re worried about passing that next medical, BasicMed just might be your ticket.
And one more note. If your regular AME is also doing BasicMed exams, that’s worth a look. Because AMEs have seen it all and understand the nature of the medical, a lot of questions that non-FAA qualified physicians might have about all things aviation would be moot for an AME. For those of you who have to or want work with a non-AME medical provider, AOPA has a great guide (for the pilot and their doc, too) that lays it all out in black and white, eliminating a lot of the concern some physicians might have about doing their first flight physical lite.