Updated: Jan 24
Both before and after Basic Med became law, the FAA was opposed to it. I was present at the 2018 Aerospace Medical Association annual scientific meeting when the FAA panel was discussing the new program. Despite their protestations, Basic Med is legal. Even though it is legal, should you use it?
The answer is: it depends.
Recall back to our previous article where we discussed the limitations of Basic Med.
Do you have a very large plane (over 6,000 lbs or more than 6 seats)?
Do you fly in the flight levels?
Do you fly over 250 knots?
Do you get paid to fly?
Has your previous medical ever been revoked, suspended, withdrawn or denied?
If the answer to any of those is yes, then Basic Med is simply not available to you. This definitely rules out any professional pilot.
But what about everyone else? Non-professional pilots are still a large group who fly for their own personal business or enjoyment; likely within the confines of the Basic Med rules. In this case it really comes down to what will be easier for you.
If you have no medical conditions and take no medications it is probably easier to continue seeing your preferred AME.
If you are a pilot operating on a Special Issuance that requires a significant work up and testing, which isn’t covered by insurance, and must be presented to your AME, but you also have a very good relationship with your primary care physician who helps you manage your condition well … then Basic Med is likely the easier route to continue flying.
Those are the two ends of the spectrum and there are a lot of people somewhere in between. For those in the middle, it is worth comparing the requirements to continue with the traditional medical certification vs the details of Basic Med. Keep in mind that both have specifically disqualifying conditions and they are not exactly the same.
Recently we advised a pilot on both possibilities, but recommended he continue with the 3rd Class. He was already familiar with the process, only took one medication and it was likely to be a faster process. Meanwhile since he was not already set up with Basic Med he would have to do the online training and find out if his doctor would be willing to sign off on the paperwork. Not at all complicated, but also not familiar to him. In the end we also gave him the resources to further explore each so he could make up his own mind.
Which is right for you? You can always ask us for help making that decision.