Classes and Validity of Medical Certificates

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Who must hold an FAA Medical Certificate?

Any person acting as pilot-in-command or other required crewmember of an aircraft (except for free balloons, gliders, and ultralights) must hold a current and appropriate medical certificate. This includes student pilots in solo flight as well as private, commercial, and airline pilots.

An applicant may apply 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. However, an applicant must have the appropriate class of medical certificate for the flying duties the airman 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 need not hold an ATP airman certificate to be eligible for a first-class medical certificate.

The three classes of FAA Airman Medical Certificates:

First-Class – Airline Transport Pilot

The validity of a First Class Medical Certificate is:

  • 6-calendar months for operations requiring a first-class medical certificate if the airman is age 40 or over on or before the date of the examination, or plus
  •  12-calendar months for operations requiring a first-class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination
  •  12-calendar months for operations requiring a second-class medical certificate, or plus
  •  24-calendar months for operations requiring a third-class medical certificate, or plus
  •  60-calendar months for operations requiring a third-class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination.

Second-Class – Commercial Pilot; Flight Engineer; Flight Navigator; or Air Traffic Control Tower Operator. (Note: This category of air traffic controller does not include FAA employee air traffic control specialists)

The validity of a Second Class Medical Certificate is:

  • 12-calendar months for operations requiring a second-class medical certificate, or plus
  • 24-calendar months for operations requiring a third-class medical certificate, or plus
  • 60-calendar months for operations requiring a third-class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination.

Third-Class – Private Pilot, Recreational Pilot, or Student Pilot

The validity of a Third Class Medical Certificate is:

  • 24-calendar months for operations requiring a third-class medical certificate, or plus
  • 60-calendar months for operations requiring a third-class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination

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