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Taking the FAA Medical Exam: What to Expect

taking the FAA medical exam

What’s involved in taking the FAA Medical Exam?

As you probably know, taking the FAA medical exam is a process every would-be pilot has to undergo – and it’s something you can expect to do throughout your flying career. After all, you can’t learn to fly until you hold a third-class FAA medical certificate.

However, taking the FAA medical exam shouldn’t be a source of worry! Here’s what to expect:

Scheduling your exam

The first thing you have to do is find an FAA-approved Aviation Medical Examiner, as only these medical professionals are certified to carry out the FAA medical exam.

You will also need to register on the FAA MedXPress system, which will allow you to complete an online application, which your AME can then review during your exam.

In your online application, you will be able to disclose any particular health history that the doctor needs to know. If you have any specific health issues, don’t worry, as depending on what these are, they could be covered under special issuance medical certificates. The AME will be able to advise you at your exam.

Before your exam

The AME will want to see you at your best, so have a good night’s sleep before the day of your exam! You might also want to avoid caffeine, very salty or sugary foods at least eight hours beforehand, and don’t forget to keep hydrated! It’ll make you feel great too.

During the exam

For a third-class medical certificate, the exam is short and straightforward. The AME will want to test:

  • Your vision (including peripheral vision, near-sightedness, far-sightedness and color vision), so don’t forget to bring your glasses or contact lenses if you wear these ordinarily.
  • Your hearing, although many AMEs don’t do this if you can generally hear well.
  • Your blood pressure.
  • Any signs of disease via a urine sample.

The AME will also carry out a short physical exam and ask a few questions about your mental health.

After the exam

The AME will then either approve, defer or deny your application. If it’s approved, you’re free to apply for your flight training (or to keep flying if you’re already qualified).

If it’s denied, it could well mean that the AME feels you clearly haven’t met the requirements of the exam, but you are still free to appeal your case with the FAA – so it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the road.

And if it’s deferred, it could mean that the AME needs you to alter something in particular, which can then lead to an approval further down the line – such as changing medication to a type that’s compatible with flying.

Most of the time, however, taking the FAA medical exam is straightforward and leads to an approval first time! So don’t let the process put you off flying – it’s just the start of a fantastic journey.

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