Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners
Application Process for Medical Certification
General Information - Classes of Medical Certificates
An applicant may apply for and be granted any class of airman medical certificate as long as the applicant meets the required medical standards for that class of medical certificate.
An applicant must have the appropriate class of medical certificate for the flying duties the pilot intends to exercise. For example, an applicant who exercises the privileges of an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate must hold a first-class medical certificate. That same pilot when holding only a third-class medical certificate may only exercise privileges of a private pilot certificate. Finally, an applicant does not need to hold an ATP airman/pilot certificate to be eligible for a first-class medical certificate.
The type of medical certification required for each type of flying is determined by Flight Standards.
- First-Class - Airline Transport Pilot
- Second-Class - Commercial Pilot, Flight Engineer, Flight Navigator, Balloon Pilots exercising Commercial Pilot Privileges, or Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (this category of air traffic controller does not include FAA employee air traffic control specialists).
Note: Effective May 22, 2023, Balloon Pilots exercising Commercial Pilot Privileges, other than instructional flight, must hold a Class II FAA Medical Certificate. See 11/22/2022 Medical Certification Standards for Commercial Balloon Operations 2120-0034.
- Third-Class - Private Pilot or Recreational Pilot
An airman medical certificate is valid only with the original signature of the AME who performed the examination or with the digital signature of an authorized FAA physician (e.g., Regional Flight Surgeon, manager of the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, Federal Air Surgeon).
- Copies are NOT valid.
- An AME may only issue ONE originally signed certificate to an airman. A replacement for a lost or destroyed certificate must be issued by the FAA.