Aviation Medical Examiners

Airplane runwayAn Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) is a physician designated by the Federal Aviation Administration and given the authority to perform flight physical examinations and issue aviation medical certificates if the applicant meets FAA standards. AMEs are practitioners of aviation medicine, although most are also qualified in other medical specialties.

When a person visits an AME for a flight physical the fees involved are for the examination and do not guarantee that a certificate will be issued.

The class of flight physical acquired is determined by what kind of flying you are doing or will do.

  • Class I, airline transport pilot. This is renewed every six months
  • Class II, commercial pilot. This is renewed every year
  • Class III, private pilot. This is renewed every five years for those under 40 and every two years or older.

Recreational Pilots, a new class of pilots, may fly smaller airplanes and carry one passenger within 50 miles of their home base, and only fly during the day in good weather. This is a good choice if you are interested in fun flying. This class of aviators does not require a flight physical but must be qualified to hold a driver’s license. Unfortunately, if you have applied for a flight physical but have been found to be not medically qualified then you are not eligible to be a recreational pilot.

The requirements are stricter for the commercial and airline transport pilots. Additionally, if you are not yet a certified pilot you will need to apply for a student pilot certificate. This is done at the same time as your first flight physical.

Our Baton Rouge Clinic AME, Robert C. Hinkle, MD, FCCP, FAASM, can provide any of the classes of flight physicals.

If you want to become a commercial pilot then you are encouraged to apply for a class one or two physical at the initial application to make sure that you are able to pass the physical requirements.

Things you can do to increase the chance of successfully passing the flight physical include, looking at what medical problems you have and finding out if you meet the standards. The best way to find the criteria is via the web and check "FAA Standards-Your medical problem." Sometimes the standards require testing from your treating doctor. Having done this and bringing that information to the appointment can greatly speed the approval time of your flight physical.

Medications can disqualify the pilot applicant as well. The FAA does not publish a comprehensive list of medications but a partial list can be found here.

Finally, if you wear glasses or contacts, make sure your prescription is up to date. Keep in mind that for classes I and II, you will need correction to 20/20, or better, i.e. 20/25 is disqualifying.

Please log onto the FAA MedXPress website and complete the application prior to coming in for the flight physical as it is necessary for the examination.

Tips for first-time applicants can be found here at the AOPA's Pilot Protection Services website.

If you have any questions, please call (225) 246-4008.