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Table of Contents

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from the FAA's Civil Aviation Medical Institute (CAMI) website

Capsular Summary of the Standards

If You Do Not Meet the Standards

LASIK and Refractive Eye Surgery

Protocols and the Airman Medical Examiner Assisted Special Issuance (AASI) Process

Sport Pilot Information




FAQs from CAMI

Note: By clicking on one of the following questions  you will be going to the FAA website page which addresses that issue. To return here use your Browser's back button


 Am I prohibited from exercising the privileges of my pilot certificate during medical deficiency?


 Can I appeal if my application for medical certification is denied?


 Can I get my student pilot certificate at the same time I take my initial flight physical?


How can I contact the FAA about my medical?


How do I obtain a medical certificate?


How does the appeal process work?


I have some medical problems and would like to learn whether I can be issued airman medical certification. Where   can I get further information?


Is a pilot required to report to the FAA that he or she has undergone LASIK or other laser eye surgery to correct vision?  (For  additional information please also visit my page on Refractive surgery)


 I lost my medical certificate; how can I obtain a copy?


 What are the minimum and maximum ages for obtaining a medical certificate?


 What class of medical certificate must I hold and how long is it valid?


 What does it cost to get a medical certificate?


 What is a medical certificate?


  What medical conditions does the FAA consider disqualifying?


 What medical standards must I meet in order to qualify for a medical certificate?


  What should I do if I hold a foreign medical certificate or endorsement and I want to exercise pilot privileges in the United States?


  Who must hold a medical certificate?

FAA Website publication date of this FAQ List was 7/20/05. Checked for update 7/3/2010.
To see if there are revisions to the FAQ List visit the FAA website site by clicking on the blue button:   

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Capsular Summary of the Standards

Please note: This was downloaded  from the FAA online version of the 
Airman Medical Examiners Handbook Version V; Updated April 3, 2006


Pilot Type


Airline Transport Pilot


Commercial Pilot


Private Pilot

20/20 or better in each eye separately, with or
without correction.

20/40 or better in each eye separately, with or without correction.


20/40 or better in each eye separately (Snellen equivalent), with or without correction, as measured at 16 inches.


20/40 or better in each eye separately (Snellen equivalent), with or without correction at age 50 and over, as measured at 32 inches.

No requirement.


Note: If the above words look grey, you may have a problem.

Ability to perceive those colors necessary for safe performance of airman duties.


Demonstrate hearing of an average conversational voice in a quiet room, using both ears at 6 feet, with the back turned to the examiner or pass one of the audiometric tests below.


Audiometric speech discrimination test: Score at least 70% reception in one ear.
Pure tone audiometric test. Unaided, with thresholds no worse than:


500 Hz

1,000 Hz

2,000 Hz

3,000 Hz

Better Ear

35 Db

30 dB

30 dB

40 dB

Worst Ear

35 dB

50 dB

50 dB

60 dB


No ear disease or condition manifested by, or that may reasonably be expected to maintained by, vertigo or a disturbance of speech or equilibrium.


Not disqualifying per se. Used to determine cardiac system status and responsiveness.


No specified values stated in the standards. The current guideline maximum value is 155/95.


At age 35 and
annually after age 40

Not routinely required.


No diagnosis of psychosis, or bipolar disorder, or severe personality disorders.


A diagnosis or medical history of "substance dependence" is disqualifying unless there is established clinical evidence, satisfactory to the Federal Air Surgeon, of recovery, including sustained total abstinence from the substance(s) for not less than the preceding 2 years. A history of "substance abuse" within the preceding 2 years is disqualifying. "Substance" includes alcohol and other drugs (i.e., PCP, sedatives and hynoptics, anxiolytics, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, hallucinogens, and other psychoactive drugs or chemicals).


Unless otherwise directed by the FAA, the Examiner must deny or defer if the applicant has a history of:

1. Diabetes mellitus requiring hypoglycemic medication
2. Angina pectoris
3. Coronary heart disease that has been treated or, if untreated, that has      been symptomatic or clinically significant.
4. Myocardial infarction
5. Cardiac valve replacement
6. Permanent cardiac pacemaker
7. Heart replacement
8. Psychosis
9. Bipolar disorder
10. Personality disorder that is severe enough to have repeatedly  manifested itself by overt acts
11. Substance dependence
12. Substance abuse
13. Epilepsy
14. Disturbance of consciousness and without satisfactory explanation of cause
15. Transient loss of control of nervous system function(s) without satisfactory explanation of cause

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If You Do Not Meet the Standards

    No individual  is perfect, and most everyone will experience at some time during his or her career a significant illness or a disability.  This does not necessarily end flying activities and the FAA has procedures whereby individuals can re-qualify.  A disqualifying medical condition can be either static or possibly progressive, and the FAA takes a different approach in dealing with each one.

    A static condition is one that is not expected to change or progress over the years.  Examples include some degree of color blindness or an individual that has lost his leg from an injury and wears a prosthesis.  If the FAA makes a determination that when considering the adaptations the individual has made to compensate for their limitations that operating an aircraft can be done safely it will issue a Statement of Demonstrated Ability or SODA.  At times an actual flight test may be required with an FAA check pilot to obtain these waivers.  SODAs are permanent and do not have any expiration or reevaluation date.  Once you have one  it remains in effect as long as the condition does not change and you apply for the same class or lower class of certificate.  A SODA  needs to be re-issued if you go to a higher class of certification, and it becomes invalid if the condition for which it was issued changes. 

    Most medical problems are not static and may progress or affect other body systems over time.  Examples in this category are hypertension, glaucoma or heart disease.  Such conditions require an initial evaluation when the problem is first discovered. If the FAA determines that the condition does not preclude the safe operation of an aircraft one can generally obtain certification. Reevaluation is usually required annually or biennially.  If the condition has not changed then the certificate may be re issued, however if there is progression continued certification may become problematic.

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FAA Protocols and the AASI Process


     To facilitate certifying pilots who do not meet the applicable medical requirements for their certificate, the FAA has developed Protocols and instituted the Airman Medical Examiner Assisted Special Issuance (AASI) process. The protocols cover a variety of common medical conditions that are at least initially disqualifying.  For a given problem the protocols describe what tests are necessary and under what circumstances a certificate may be issued.  A list of these protocols  can be view on the Protocols Page of this website, or by going directly to the Protocol Pages at the CAMI website. .

    The AASI
is a process that provides the Airman Medical Examiner (AME) the ability to reissue all classes of airman medical certificate to an applicant with certain disqualifying conditions.  If during an aviation medical examination it is determined that an airman has one of these diseases or conditions, the AME will do the exam, and forward the results of the exam and the diseases-specific information to the FAA. FAA staff physicians provide the initial certification decision and grant or deny the authorization.  This authorization letter is accompanied by an attachment that specifies the information that the applicant must provide from his/her treating physician(s) for continued certification. When you return for your next FAA Exam, you bring the authorization letter in, the required medical information, and if the condition has not changed and you are otherwise qualified, the AME will issue the certificate.   A list of these guidelines can be viewed on the AASI Page of this website, or by going directly to the AASI Pages of the CAMI website. 

     Certification is fastest if you have the required supporting documentation when you come in for your medical examination.   The AME cannot issue the certificate until he/she has the requisite information required by the protocols or AASI Process and you are otherwise qualified. If your particular circumstance needs to be deferred to the regional flight Surgeon or CAMI a decision is expedited if the protocol or AASI data and the AME 's report is sent in together

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This page was last updated on 10/31/14