Aviation Flight Physicals
To fly a plane, aviators need a pilot’s license and a medical certificate, which involves getting a physical from a doctor who is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).
FAA Medical Certificate Classes
There are three classes of FAA medical certificates, each with a more restrictive set of physical standards. Although you may apply for any class of medical certification, most pilots apply for the class most applicable to their flying activity.
First-Class Medical Certificate
Commercial airline transport pilots need first-class medical certificates from senior AMEs with two to three years of experience. These pilots must receive physicals every year until age 39. At 40, they need a flight physical every six months.
Second-Class Medical Certificate
Second-class certificates are for commercial pilots, including corporate aviators, crop dusters, aero-medical pilots, charter pilots, or navigators and first officers of commercial airline flights. They need a flight physical every year.
Third-Class Medical Certificate
The third-class certificate covers recreational and private pilots. Before age 40, they must have a flight physical every five years; after age 40, they need one every two years.
To learn more about FAA requirements and pilot medical certification frequently asked questions visit faa.gov.