Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners

Application Process for Medical Certification

General Information - Medical Certificates Requested for any Situation or Job Other than a Pilot or Air Traffic Controller

The FAA's authority to issue airman medical certificates is limited to civil aviation safety considerations by statute (Title 49, United States Code, Chapter 447) and regulation (Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 61 and 67). The Federal Air Surgeon's authority is therefore limited to considering whether an individual applying for medical certification is physically and mentally qualified to safely perform pilot or air traffic control duties requiring any class of airman medical certificate. This includes contract air traffic control tower operators who are required by regulation to have a class II airman medical certificate.

The Federal Air Surgeon may not give consideration to non-pilot occupational, employment, recreational, or other reasons an individual may have for seeking an airman medical certificate. This would be an abrogation of the Federal Air Surgeon's safety responsibilities.

  • Historically, several industries have required certain employees to obtain medical certification by completing an FAA airman medical examination, usually related to accident or health insurance liability issues, e.g. parachute jump instructors, speedboat drivers, and Armed Security Officers (per TSA/DHS requirements).
  • Those requirements are set by the employer, not by the FAA.
  • The FAA may not put limitations on an airman's medical certificate, such as valid for speedboat racing only.
  • Similarly, the FAA may not issue airman medical certificates with a limitation of not valid for flying.
  • The medical application may not be tailored to specific industries or non-aviation uses. The applicant either meets all of the medical requirements for a specific class, with or without a Special Issuance or SODA, or they do not. The FAA may not issue a medical certificate, for example, if the applicant passed everything except the vision requirement or the hearing requirement for that class because they are not a pilot or ATC.
  • The fact that an employer requires an airman medical certificate for employment is an issue that the individual should address with their employer. It is outside the purview of the FAA.

Once issued an FAA airman medical certificate, the individual may legally use that certificate to become a pilot or perform pilot (or air traffic control) duties, even if the individual specifically denied intent to do so at the time of the application. Therefore, if the FAA issues an airman medical certificate with the intent that the person not use it to fly, yet they decided to do so, that would be an abrogation of the FAA's safety duties.

Last updated: Thursday, July 23, 2020